How bad was the famine?
For two years farming was dislocated, not, as often claimed, by Moscow’s enforcement of collectivization but by the fact that local people eager to be first at the promised tractors, organized collective farms three times as fast as the plan called for, setting up large-scale farming without machines even without bookkeepers. In 1932-33 the whole land went hungry; all food everywhere was rigidly rationed. (It has been often called a famine which killed millions of people, but I visited the hungriest parts of the country and while I found a widespread suffering, I did not find, either in individual villages or in the total Soviet census, evidence of the serious depopulation which famine implies.)
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 69
The latest scholarly study of famine deaths is 2.6 million (Jacques Vallin, France Meslé, Serguei Adamets, and Serhii Pirozhkov, “A New Estimate of Ukrainian Population Losses during the Crises of the 1930s and 1940s,” Population Studies 56, 3 (2002): 249–64).
The “Holodomor” and the Film “Bitter Harvest” are Fascist Lies, Grover Furr, March 2017
the New Republic notes that while bread prices in Ukraine were falling, “bread prices in Moscow have risen.”…
Tottle, Douglas. Fraud, Famine, and Fascism. Toronto: Progress Books,1987, p. 49-51
…Sir John Maynard, a former high school… official in the Indian government was a renowned expert on famines and relief measures. On the basis of his experience in Ukraine, he stated that the idea of 3 or 4 million dead “has passed into legend. Any suggestion of a calamity comparable with the famine of 1921-1922 is, in the opinion of the present writer, who traveled through Ukraine and North Caucasus in June and July 1933, unfounded.” Even as conservative a scholar as Warren Walsh wrote in defense of Maynard, his “professional competence and personal integrity were beyond reasonable challenge.”
Tottle, Douglas. Fraud, Famine, and Fascism. Toronto: Progress Books,1987, p. 52
Recent evidence has indicated that part of the cause of the famine was an exceptionally low harvest in 1932, much lower than incorrect Soviet methods of calculation had suggested. The documents included here or published elsewhere do not yet support the claim that the famine was deliberately produced by confiscating the harvest, or that it was directed especially against the peasants of the Ukraine.
Koenker and Bachman, Eds. Revelations from the Russian Archives. Washington: Library of Congress, 1997, p. 401
In view of the importance of grain stocks to understanding the famine, we have searched Russian archives for evidence of Soviet planned and actual grain stocks in the early 1930s. Our main sources were the Politburo protocols, including the (“special files,” the highest secrecy level), and the papers of the agricultural collections committee Komzag, of the committee on commodity funds, and of Sovnarkom. The Sovnarkom records include telegrams and correspondence of Kuibyshev, who was head of Gosplan, head of Komzag and the committee on reserves, and one of the deputy chairs of Komzag at that time. We have not obtained access to the Politburo working papers in the Presidential Archive, to the files of the committee on reserves or to the relevant files in military archives. But we have found enough information to be confident that this very a high figure for grain stocks is wrong and that Stalin did not have under his control huge amounts of grain, which could easily have been used to eliminate the famine.
Stalin, Grain Stocks and the Famine of 1932-1933 by R. W. Davies, M. B. Tauger, S.G. Wheatcroft.Slavic Review, Volume 54, Issue 3 (Autumn, 1995), pp. 642-657.
I would recommend to Ms. Chernihivaka the following publications regarding the 1931-1933 famine and some other famines as well. I will begin with my own because I believe that these most directly relate to her question. “The 1932 Harvest and the Soviet Famine of 1932-1933,” and the “Natural Disaster and Human Actions in the Soviet Famine of 1931-1933.” These two articles show that the famine resulted directly from a famine harvest, a harvest that was much smaller than officially acknowledged, that this small harvest was in turn, the result of a complex of natural disasters that [with one small exception] no previous scholars have ever discussed or even mentioned. The footnotes in the Carl Beck paper contain extensive citations from primary sources as well as Western and Soviet secondary sources, among others by Penner, Wheatcroft and Davies that further substantiate these points, and I urge interested readers to examine these works as well.
Ukrainian Famine by Mark Tauger. E-mail sent on April 16, 2002
There was a telegram sent the very next day, on Dec 7th 1932, from Stalin and Molotov to Kabakov, Oshvintzev and Mirzoyan. It reads:
“Mirzoyan’s encrypted telegram regarding unmet quotas for sovkhozes [state-owned farms] we find unconvincing,
devoid of substance, and bureaucratic. The provincial authorities may not escape responsibility for failure of sovkhozes to meet quotas. Soviet of People’s Commissars and the Central Committee order you to forward to Moscow names of the directors of the failing sovkhozes, and announce to these directors that, in case quotas remain unmet, they will be arrested as liars, saboteurs and enemies of the Soviet state in the same way as several directors of sovkhozes in Western Siberia, Ukraine, North Caucasus were arrested. Announce to the directors that membership in the Communist party will not save them from prosecution, since an enemy with a Party card deserves a more severe punishment than an enemy without a Party card.”
SIGNED: STALIN, MOLOTOV
- Why was the Ukraine sealed off by the Soviet authorities?
Not necessarily to punish Ukrainians. It was also done to prevent starving people from flocking into non-famine areas, putting pressure on scarce food supplies there, and thereby turning a regional disaster into a universal one. This was also the original reason for the internal passport system, which was adopted in the first instance to prevent the movement of hungry and desperate people and, with them, the spread of famine.
- Why were foreign journalists, even Stalin apologists like Duranty, refused access to the famine areas?
For the same reason that US journalists are no longer allowed into US combat zones (Gulf War, Afghanistan) since Vietnam. No regime is anxious to take the chance on bad press if they can control the situation otherwise.
- Why was aid from other countries refused?
Obviously to deny the “imperialists” a chance to trumpet the failure of socialism. Certainly politics triumphed over humanitarianism. Moreover, in the growing paranoia of the times (and based on experience in the Civil War) the regime believed that spies came along with relief administration.
- Why do I read and hear stories of families who tried to take supplies frodsdsm other regions to help their extended families through the period having all foodstuffs confiscated as they crossed back into the famine regions?
The regime believed, reasonably I think, that speculators were trying to take advantage of the disaster by buying up food in non-famine (but nevertheless food-short) regions, moving it to Ukraine, and reselling it at a higher price. In true Bolshevik fashion, there was no nuanced approach to this, no distinguishing between families and speculators, and everybody was stopped. As with point 1 above, regimes facing famine typically try to contain the disaster geographically. This is not the same as intending to punish the victims.
- If it was a harvest failure, why was the burden of that failure not simply shared across the Soviet Union?
It was. No region had a lot of food in 1932-33. Food was short and expensive everywhere. Everybody was hungry.
With the above suggestions, I do not mean to make excuses or apologies for the Stalinists. Their conduct in this was erratic, incompetent, and cruel and millions of people suffered unimaginably and died as a result. But it is too simple to explain everything with a “Bolsheviks were just evil people” explanation more suitable to children than scholars. It was more complex than that. Although the situation was aggravated in some ways by Bolshevik mistakes, their attempts to contain the famine, once it started, were not entirely stupid, nor were they necessarily gratuitously cruel. The Stalinists did, by the way, eventually cut grain exports and did, by the way, send food relief to Ukraine and other areas. It was too little too late, but there is no evidence (aside from constantly repeated assertions by some writers) that this was a deliberately inflicted “terror-famine.”
- To deny the Jewish genocide quite rightly brings opprobrium. Surely to deny the terror famine of 1932-33 ought to provoke the same response.
This is a position that I personally find grotesque, insulting and at least shallow. Nobody is denying the famine or the huge scale of suffering, (as holocaust-deniers do), least of all Tauger and other researchers who have spent much of their careers trying to bring this tragedy to light and give us a factual account of it. Admittedly, what he and other scholars do is different from the work of journalists and polemicists who indiscriminately collect horror stories and layer them between repetitive statements about evil, piling it all up and calling it history. A factual, careful account of horror in no way makes it less horrible.
Ukrainian Famine by J. Arch Getty, E-mail sent on May 7, 2002
“There is no evidence, it [1932-33 famine] was intentionally directed against Ukrainians,” said Alexander Dallin of Stanford, the father of modern Sovietology. “That would be totally out of keeping with what we know–it makes no sense.”
“I absolutely reject it,” said Lynne Viola of SUNY– Binghamton, the first US historian to examine Moscow’s Central State archive on collectivization. “Why in god’s name, would this paranoid government consciously produce a famine when they were terrified of war [with Germany]?”
“He’s [Conquest] terrible at doing research,” said veteran Sovietologist Roberta Manning of Boston College. “He misuses sources, he twists everything.”
Which leaves us with a puzzle: Wouldn’t one or two or 3.5 million famine-related deaths be enough to make an anti-Stalinist argument? Why seize a wildly inflated figure that can’t possibly be supported? The answer tells much about the Ukrainian nationalist cause, and about those who abet it.
“They’re always looking to come up with a number bigger than 6 million,” observed Eli Rosenbaum, general counsel for the World Jewish Congress. “It makes the reader think: ‘My God, it’s worse than the Holocaust’.”
IN SEARCH OF A SOVIET HOLOCAUST [A 55 Year Old Famine Feeds the Right] by Jeff Coplon. Village Voice, New York City, January 12, 1988
“The severity and geographical extent of the famine, the sharp decline in exports in 1932-1933, seed requirements, and the chaos in the Soviet Union in these years, all lead to the conclusion that even a complete cessation of exports would not have been enough to prevent famine. This situation makes it difficult to accept the interpretation of the famine as the result of the 1932 grain procurements and as a conscious act of genocide. The harvest of 1932 essentially made a famine inevitable…” Tauger, Mark. “The 1932 Harvest and the Famine of 1933,” Slavic Review, Volume 50, Issue 1 (Spring, 1991), 70-89.
Translation of 6) Regarding the political situation, it is necessary to say that Ukraine is experiencing true famine, entire villages and counties are dying out, and to especially emphasize horrific mortality rates among children.This should be explained as the policy [is] TARGETED AT IRREVOCABLY BREAKING DOWN the Ukrainian nation as [it’s] the only national force able to show serious resistance. Some will die, and others will scatter across the vast terrain of Russia.
the stuff about “a policy of finally breaking the Ukrainian nation as a united national force” is stated by a certain Denisenko, who is identified as a student of Hrushevsky / Grushevskiy. Here’s the English Wikipedia page on him: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mykhailo_Hrushevsky. [This document’s] a report by a GPU (later the NKVD) agent to his Chief in Moscow, Molchanov, informing him about the line taken by students of Hrushevsky — in other words, by Ukrainian Nationalists. This is not evidence that the Soviets intended to kill Ukrainians. This IS evidence that the essence of the “Holodomor” story was being circulated by Ukrainian Nationalist intellectuals in the USSR as early as 1932.
Kulak Protests against Collectivization
“collective farms established in 1931 and 1932 were shockingly mismanaged…What else could be expected when…it has been estimated that livestock dropped by 50% during those tragic years and there were large areas, as I saw with my own eyes in the North Caucasus in 1933, where miles of weeds and desolation replaced the former grainfields….”
Duranty, Walter. Stalin & Co. New York: W. Sloane Associates, 1949, p. 77
Peasant protests did occur. According to an OGPU (police) report of March 1931, right in the midst of collectivization, about five per cent of the peasant population was involved in protests. This also means that the vast majority of peasants was not involved in such protests. Most of these protests were settled peacefully; the OGPU reported that they had recourse to force in fewer than 2% of them. Many peasants actively supported collectivization. This number increased when local activists were experienced or sensitive enough to patiently explain the purpose of collectivization to the peasants. Some peasants “spontantously form[ed] kolkhozy (collective farm) and consolidated their fields.” (Tauger 2004, 75)
“Tauger concludes that: … the regime implemented collectivization coercively, violently and without adequate appreciation of or concern for its disruptive consequences.” (Tauger 2004, 88)
Nevertheless, he concludes: “[C]ollectivization was a programme to achieve a clearly necessary goal – to increase food production in a country plagued by famines – and that it was implemented after the apparently successful experiment of the sovkhoz project and with substantial governmental investments. (Tauger 2004, 88)
Many historians claim that peasant opposition to and even rebellion against collectivization was widespread, and thus that collectivization produced “famine and failure.””
Tauger believes the facts show otherwise: “[T]hese studies minimize or ignore the actual harvest data, the environmental factors that caused low harvests, the repeated recovery from the famine and crop failures, the large harvests of the 1930s, the mechanization of Soviet farms in these years, Soviet population growth, and the long-term increases in food production and consumption over the Soviet period.” (Tauger 2004, 87)
In short, collectivization was a success for the Soviet and Ukrainian peasantry and for all of Soviet society which, of course, relied on the peasants’ agricultural labor to feed it.
“… collectivisation brought substantial modernisation to traditional agriculture in the Soviet Union, and laid the basis for relatively high food production and consumption by the 1970s and 1980s.” (Tauger 2006, 109)
Many accounts of “dekulakization” and forcible grain procurements emphasize the violence that was often necessary to force determined opponents of collectivization off the land into exile, and the fact that peasants who were forced to give up grain during the famine experienced this force as cruelty. There must have been many incidents that could be described by anyone as “cruel”. In Tauger’s view “the cruel forced movement of population – dekulakization” or what Stalin called “the destruction of the class of kulaks”, was “not necessarily the best means to achieve the regime’s objective” of collectivizing agriculture.
I am not convinced by those who claim that the Soviets rejected “better” or “less cruel” methods of collectivization. The truth is that collectivization was a massive enterprise that was unprecedented in history. Stalin and the Soviet leadership undertook it because they saw no other way to avoid devastating famines in the future. They made a plan and carried it out, and that meant disempowering any people who were determined to stop it.
The Soviet leadership was flexible. The plan was changed several times in response to feedback from local activists who worked directly with peasants. The most famous change in plan is that associated with Stalin’s article “Dizzy with Success,” published on March 2, 1930. This article re-emphasized the need to persuade rather than to force peasants to join collective farms.
When the famine occurred – not caused by collectivization but by environmental factors, as we discuss below – the Soviet leadership had to deal with that too. There was no choice but to take grain from peasants in the countryside in order to redistribute it in a more egalitarian manner, as well as to feed the cities and the army, which produced little food. Whatever excesses or cruelty took place were the inevitable result of errors in the plan for carrying out collectivization. Inevitable too was the unevenness in the abilities and characteristics of the tens of thousands of activists and of the peasants themselves. All were faced with a terrible situation under emergency conditions, where many people would inevitably die of starvation or its effects, simply because there was not enough food to feed the whole population.
No “perfect” plan is ever possible at any time. None was possible in 1932. A great many mistakes were made. It could not have been otherwise. But the biggest mistake would have been not to collectivize at all.
“This evidence shows, in particular, that collectivisation allowed the mobilisation and distribution of resources, like tractors, seed aid, and food relief, to enable farmers to produce a large harvest during a serious famine, which was unprecedented in Russian history and almost so in Soviet history. By implication, therefore, this research shows that collectivisation, whatever its disruptive effects on agriculture, did in fact function as a means to modernise and aid Soviet agriculture.” (Tauger 2006, 112)
- (Blood Lies, Grover Furr, pg. 59-62)
What caused the famine?
Nonetheless, two studies discuss the harvests in those years. Robert Davies and Stephen Wheatcroft argue that the 1931 and 1932 harvests were small due to drought and difficulties in labor and capital, especially the decline in draft animals….Tauger, Mark. Natural Disaster and Human Actions in the Soviet Famine of 1931-1933 Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 2001, p. 6
From this we can conclude that the death of draft animals was a cause in the famine ^
kulaks threw themselves into a struggle to the end. To sabotage collectivization, they burnt crops, set barns, houses and other buildings on fire and killed militant Bolsheviks…Of the 34 million horses in the country in 1928, there remained only 15 million in 1932. A terse Bolshevik spoke of the liquidation of the horses as a class. Of the 70.5 million head of cattle, there only remained 40.7 million in 1932. Only 11.6 million pigs out of 26 million survived the collectivization period.
Charles Bettelheim. L’Economie sovietique (Paris: editions Recueil Sirey, 1950), p. 87.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 79 [p. 66 on the NET]
From this we can determine that the kulaks had caused the death of the farm animals ^
Soviet agronomic literature and other published and archival sources from the 1930s, however, which no previous scholarship on the famine has discussed, indicate that in 1932 Soviet crops suffered from an extraordinarily severe combination of infestations from crop diseases and pests.
The most important infestation in 1932 came from several varieties of rust, a category of fungi that can infest grains and many other plants.
Tauger, Mark. Natural Disaster and Human Actions in the Soviet Famine of 1931-1933 Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 2001, p. 13
The Soviet authorities greatly overestimated the crop that would be harvested in late 1932. But so did foreign experts, as Davies and Wheatcroft show (127). Hunger limited the strength of harvest workers (128). Plant diseases were a serious problem. According to Davies and Wheatcroft: During the harvest of 1932, the poor weather, the lack of autumn and spring ploughing, the shortage and poor quality of the seed, the poor cultivation of the crop and the delay in harvesting all combined to increase the incidence of fungal disease. Reports in the Narkomzem [=People’s Commissariat for Agriculture] archives complain that traditional campaigns to disinfect the fields, the storehouses and the sacks for the harvested grain, were all carried out extremely badly in Ukraine. Cairns [the British expert whose overestimation of the 1932 harvest they cited earlier] found that in the North Caucasus ‘the winter wheat was extremely weedy and looked as though it was badly rusted’, and ‘all the spring wheat I saw was simply rotten with rust’. (131) Conclusion: In June 1932 the authorities were still looking forward to a good harvest.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 135
drought, rain, and infestations destroyed at least 20% of the harvest, and this would have been sufficient on its own to have caused serious food shortages or even famine. If these factors had not been in evidence in 1931 and 1932 agricultural production would have been considerably larger, and while procurements could have caused shortages in specific regions, they would not have caused a famine like that of 1933….
Tauger, Mark. Natural Disaster and Human Actions in the Soviet Famine of 1931-1933 Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 2001, p. 20
On the basis of the above discussion, I contend that an understanding of the Soviet famine of 1932-1933 must start from the background of chronic agricultural crises in the early Soviet years, the harvest failures of 1931 and 1932, and the interaction of environmental and human factors that caused them. In 1932, extremely dry weather reduced crops in some regions, and unusually wet and human weather in most others fostered unprecedented infestations. These conditions from the start reduced the potential yield that year, as drought had…in 1931. At the same time, the regime’s procurements from the 1931 harvest left peasants and work livestock starving and weakened. Crop failures, procurements that reduced fodder resources, peasant neglect, overuse of the limited number of tractors, and shortages of spare parts and fuel all combined to reduce available draft power. Farm work consequently was performed poorly in many kolkhosi and sovkhozy, often even when peasants were willing to put in the effort. Finally, farming activities combined with other environmental problems–soil exhaustion, weeds, and mice–to further reduce the 1932 harvest to famine levels.
Tauger, Mark. Natural Disaster and Human Actions in the Soviet Famine of 1931-1933 Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 2001, p. 45
Despite this, and despite the anecdotal evidence that resistance scholars present, however, clear and substantial evidence shows that harvests varied in the 1930s primarily and mostly from environmental factors. Serious droughts reduced the harvest in 1931 and 1936 drastically…and those of 1934 and 1938 moderately, and a complex of natural disasters made the 1932 harvest the lowest of the decade and a primary cause of the famine of 1932-33.
While peasant resistance did take place in the 1930s, it is extremely difficult to document its effect on production. In 1931, for example, peasants sowed a record area; although some was sown too late, under better weather conditions the crop would have been much larger. By the same token, the improved harvest of 1933, and the good harvest of 1935 and 1937, resulted first of all from favorable weather. Other scholars have emphasized the primary importance of environmental factors in the 1930s, showing for example that soil exhaustion, drought and other circumstances reduced harvests in 1931-32. A Russian scholar showed in a recent study of kolkhozy in the Urals that the most important influence on kolkhoz labor productivity was climate.
Tauger, Mark. “Soviet Peasants and Collectivization, 1930-39: Resistance and Adaptation.” In Rural Adaptation in Russia by Stephen Wegren, Routledge, New York, NY, 2005, Chapter 3, p. 77.
Throughout the history of the famine-genocide campaign, the factors of drought and sabotage have been ignored, denied, downplayed or distorted. Soviet excesses and mistakes, in contrast, are emphasized, given an “anti-Ukrainian” motivation, described as deliberately and consciously planned, and the results exaggerated in depictions of starvation deaths in the multi-millions. The central event–the collectivization of agriculture as part of socialist development–is never given anything but a classically anti-Communist interpretation….For some promoters of “famine-genocide,” anything other than man-made causes are ignored or denied. Natural causes, such as drought, are alleged never to have taken place; claims that drought was a contributing factor are denounced as Soviet inventions. One might then expect that no non-Soviet source could be cited to substantiate drought. However, A History of Ukraine by Mikhail Hrushevsky–described by the Nationalists themselves as “Ukraine’s leading historian”–states: “Again a year of drought coincided with chaotic agricultural conditions; and during the winter of 1932-33 a great famine, like that of 1921-1922 swept across Soviet Ukraine….” Indeed, nowhere does History of Ukraine claim a deliberate, man-made famine against Ukrainians, and more space is actually devoted to the famine of 1921-1922. More recent histories can also be cited on the subject of drought. Nicolas Riasnovsky, former visiting professor at Harvard University’s Russian Research Center, notes in his History of Russia that drought occurred in both 1931 and 1932. Michael Florinsky, immediately following a description of the mass destruction wrought by kulak resistance to collectivization, states: “Severe droughts in 1930 and 1931, especially in the Ukraine, aggravated the plight of farming and created near famine conditions.” Professor Emeritus at Columbia and a prolific writer on the USSR, Florinsky can hardly be accused of leftist sympathies: born in Kiev, Ukraine, he fought against the Bolsheviks in the Civil War.While drought was a contributing factor, the main cause of the famine was the struggle around the collectivization of agriculture which raged in the countryside in this period.
Tottle, Douglas. Fraud, Famine, and Fascism. Toronto: Progress Books,1987, p. 91-92
Soviet mistakes and excesses, drought and the organized campaign of sabotage and resistance resulted in the famine of 1932-1933. There was no plan to wipe out Ukrainians as a people; the mistakes–even when accompanied by tragic and unforgivable excesses– do not constitute “pre-planned genocide.”
The famine was compounded by typhus epidemics. Internationally acclaimed urban planner and recipient of the Order of Canada, Dr. Hans Blumenfeld worked as an architect in the Ukrainian city of Makeyevka at the time the famine. He writes: “There was indeed a famine in 1933, not just in Ukraine, but also in… the lower Volga and the North Caucasus;… There is no doubt that the famine claimed many victims. I have no basis on which to estimate their number… Probably most deaths in 1933 were due to epidemics of typhus, typhoid fever, and dysentery. Waterborne diseases were frequent in Makeyevka; I narrowly survived an attack of typhus fever. Dr. Hans Blumenfeld offers a useful personal summary of the period:
… [The famine was caused by] a conjunction of a number of factors. First, the hot dry summer of 1932, which I had experienced in northern Vyatka, had resulted in crop failure in the semiarid regions of the south. Second, the struggle for collectivization had disrupted agriculture. Collectivization was not an orderly process following bureaucratic rules. It consisted of actions by the poor peasants, encouraged by the Party. The poor peasants were eager to expropriate the “kulaks,” but less eager to organize a co-operative economy. By 1930 the Party had already sent out cadres to stem and correct excesses…. After having exercised restraint in 1930, the Party put on a drive again in 1932. As a result, in that year the kulak economy ceased to produce, and the new collective economy did not yet produce fully. First claim on the inadequate product went to urban industry and to the armed forces; as the future of the entire nation, including the peasants, depended on them, it can hardly be otherwise….
In 1933 rainfall was adequate. The Party sent its best cadres to help organize work in the kolkhozes. They succeeded; after the harvest of 1933 the situation improved radically and with amazing speed. I had the feeling that we had been pulling a heavy cart uphill, uncertain if we would succeed; but in the fall of 1933 we had gone over the top and from then on we could move forward at an accelerating pace.
Tottle, Douglas. Fraud, Famine, and Fascism. Toronto: Progress Books,1987, p. 96-97
“The small harvests of 1931-1932 created shortages that affected virtually everyone in the country and that the Soviet regime did not have the internal resources to alleviate the crisis.”
(Tauger 2001b, 46, 47), Retrieved from Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 71
“Finally, this essay shows that while the USSR experienced chronic drought and other natural disasters earlier, those which occurred in 1932 were an unusual and severe combination of calamities in a country with heightened vulnerability to such incidents …. The evidence and analysis I have presented here show that the Soviet famine was more serious and more important an event than most previous studies claim, including those adhering to the Ukrainian nationalist interpretation, and that it resulted from a highly abnormal combination of environmental and agricultural circumstances.”
(Tauger 2001b, 46, 47), Retrieved from Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 71
Any study that asserts that the harvest was not extraordinarily low and that the famine was a political measure intentionally imposed through excessive procurements is clearly based on an insufficient source base and an uncritical approach to the official sources. The evidence cited above demonstrates that the 1932-1933 famine was the result of a genuine shortage, a substantial decline in the availability of food caused by a complex of factors, each of which decreased the harvest greatly and which in combination must have decreased the harvest well below subsistence. This famine therefore resembled the Irish famine of 1845-1848, but resulted from a litany of natural disasters that combined to the same effect as the potato blight had 90 years before, and in a similar context of substantial food exports. The Soviet famine resembles the Irish case in another way as well: in both, government leaders were ignorant of and minimized the environmental factors and blamed the famines on human actions (in Ireland, overpopulation, in the USSR, peasant resistance) much more than was warranted….
If we are to believe that the regime starved the peasants to induce labor discipline in the farms, are we to interpret starvation in the towns as the regime’s tool to discipline blue and white-collar workers and their wives and children? While Soviet food distribution policies are beyond the scope of this article, it is clear that the small harvests of 1931-1932 created shortages that affected virtually everyone in the country and that the Soviet regime did not have the internal resources to alleviate the crisis.
Tauger, Mark. Natural Disaster and Human Actions in the Soviet Famine of 1931-1933 Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 2001, p. 46
…the famine resulted directly from a famine harvest, a harvest that was much smaller than officially acknowledged, and that this small harvest was in turn the result of a complex of natural disasters that [with one small exception] no previous scholars have ever discussed or even mentioned. The foot notes in the Carl Beck Paper contain extensive citations from primary sources as well as Western and Soviet secondary works, among others by D’Ann Penner and Stephen Wheatcroft and R. W. Davies that further substantiate these points and I urge interested readers to examine those works as well.
Tauger, Mark. His comments at random.
My research on Soviet farm labor policies and actual peasant practices and my reading of this literature, however, has made me skeptical of the argument for labor resistance as the exclusive or even dominant cause of the low harvests and famine in the early 1930s. First, while some peasants were so resentful of collectivization and procurements that they attempted to sabotage the farms, for peasant resistance to have been sufficient to cause the low 1932 harvest an extremely large number of peasants would have had to act this way, that is, to have avoided work and attempted to destroy the harvest. In other words, the argument asserts that the majority of peasants attempted to deprive their families and fellow villagers of sufficient food to last until the next harvest. This interpretation, therefore, requires us to believe that most peasants acted against their own and their neighbors’ self-interest. This viewpoint is difficult to accept both on general human terms and particularly when applied to peasants in Russia and Ukraine. The great majority of these peasants had lived for centuries in corporate villages that had instilled certain basic cooperative values, and the kolkhosi perpetuated basic features of these villages.
Second, the argument is reductionist because it attempts to explain everything that happened in this crisis by human actions, specifically by the conflict between the Soviet government and the peasants, with an emphasis on peasant resistance as a kind of heroic struggle against the oppressive regime. Such reductionism is problematic because it does not account for actions that do not fit the pattern of resistance, that took place outside the nexus of resistance. If the situation had been as conflictual as this interpretation implies, if the great majority of peasants did little or no farm work and performed the work they did do neglectfully and poorly out of spite, then the harvest in 1932 would not have been even 50,000,000 tons but practically nothing.
Tauger, Mark. Natural Disaster and Human Actions in the Soviet Famine of 1931-1933 Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 2001, p. 26
While rust infestations were not a new problem in Russia, the extreme outbreak in 1932 took agronomists by surprise, and they did not fully understand it.
Tauger, Mark. Natural Disaster and Human Actions in the Soviet Famine of 1931-1933 Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 2001, p. 16
…losses from rust and smut in 1932 reached approximately 9 million tons, 13% of the official harvest figure and nearly 20% of the lowest archival harvest estimate. It should also be noted that while these estimates are approximate, they are also the only concrete estimates, based on any even remotely scientific evidence, of overall 1932 grain harvest losses from any environmental or human factors available in any published or archival sources that I have been able to find.
Tauger, Mark. Natural Disaster and Human Actions in the Soviet Famine of 1931-1933 Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 2001, p. 17
The main causes of the 1932-33 famine were environmental factors that led to a poor harvest. These factors were: drought in some areas; unusually heavy rainfall in others; serious infestations of the crop diseases rust and smut; plagues of pests, including Asian locusts, beet weevils, meadow moths, and caterpillars; and a huge infestation of mice. The harvest was so small that the amount of food available in the USSR was apparently less than was necessary to feed the whole population.
Contributing factors were due to the interaction of human agency with these environmental causes. There was a widespread and serious problem of weeds, caused by a shortage of labor to weed the fields due to population flight and the weakness of many remaining peasants. Much land remained unplanted or unharvested due to labor shortages caused by population losses both from peasants moving to towns and cities and from peasants weakened by or dying of starvation.
“Horses were the chief draught animals used for plowing and other agricultural tasks. Many horses had been lost or were already severely weakened by a famine in 1931-32 and by desperate peasants eating oats, the horses’ fodder. The Soviet state imported some tractors and manufactured others. This did have some effect but not enough to overcome the loss of draft power from horses.” (Tauger 2001b)
Much of the land had been planted in grain for years in a row. This resulted in soil exhaustion that severely reduced fertility. Farms and agricultural officials were finding it hard to find additional land in the established agricultural regions. The increased area put the peasants under considerable strain. Nevertheless there was sufficient labor to bring in a good harvest in 1933 and so put an end to the famine. That means there had been enough labor in 1931 and 1932 as well. That the harvest in those years was fatally small was mainly due to the environmental factors listed above.
The Soviet leadership did not fully understand these environmental causes. Nor did their informants, the OGPU and local Party leaders. Therefore, they tended to blame human factors like mismanagement, faulty leadership, and, to some extent, peasant resistance and kulak sabotage. Not understanding, at least for many months, the primary importance of environmental causes, and believing reports that the harvest should have been a good one, the only logical alternative was that the famine was caused by various kinds of sabotage: direct sabotage by Ukrainian nationalists; peasants withholding grain; peasants and others hoarding grain for sale; peasants unwilling to work the fields; Party, kolkhoz, and other officials collaborating in these efforts, and so on.
Nevertheless the Soviet government did greatly reduce exports of grain. It also began to ship aid in food and seed to Ukraine and other hard-hit areas. Tauger (2004, 82-3) writes:
“By early 1933 the USSR was in the throes of a catastrophic famine, varying in severity between regions but pervasive. After efforts in January to procure more grain, the regime began desperate efforts in February to aid peasants to produce a crop. The political departments (politotdely), which the regime introduced into the state farms (sovkhozy) and the machine tractor stations (MTS) in early 1933, played a crucial role in these efforts. These agencies, composed of a small group of workers and OGPU personnel in each MTS or sovkhoz, removed officials who had violated government directives on farm work and procurements, replacing them with kolkhozniki or sovkhoz workers who they thought would be more reliable, and organized and otherwise helped farms to produce a good harvest in 1933. They were supported by draconian and coercive laws enforcing labour discipline in the farms in certain regions, but also by the largest allocations of seed and food aid in Soviet history, 5.76 million tons, and by special sowing commissions set up in crucial regions like Ukraine, the Urals, the Volga and elsewhere to manage regional-level aspects of organization and supplies to the farms.”
Historians seldom discuss the role of these politotdely. Tauger believes they made a significant contribution to the efforts to organize production and overcome the famine. He summarizes at some length a report of December 1933 from the Central Blackearth Oblast’ (south of Moscow and directly north of Ukraine) about the important role these bodies played in helping the peasants bring in bringing in the good harvest of 1933:
“The report first describes the crisis conditions of early 1933: peasants starving and dying, horses exhausted, dying and neglected, tractors repaired poorly or not at all, labour discipline weak among kolkhozniki, tractor drivers and individual peasants, with frequent cases of refusals to work and avoidance of responsibility. The politotdely began by talking with and organizing the kolkhozniki, and by purging kolkhozy, MTS, and other local agencies of what it termed kulak and counter-revolutionary elements. According to the report kolkhozniki participated in these actions and developed enthusiasm for work from them. With politotdel help, MTS and kolkhozy finished sowing 15 days earlier than they had in 1932, and sowed 3.4 million hectares instead of the 2.85 million hectares they had in 1932. They used fertilizer for the first time and sorted seed, they treated more seed against plant diseases, they weeded crops sometimes two and three times, and they took measures against insects. They completed harvesting grain crops in 65 days, versus 70 in 1932, and threshing in December 1933, a process that in 1932 had lasted in the region into March 1933. They completed grain procurements in November 1933 (those of 1932 had lasted like threshing into spring 1933), paid off all of their seed loans, formed the necessary internal funds in kolkhozy and still managed to distribute to kolkhozniki much more in labour-day payments than the previous year, thereby ending the famine in the region. The kolkhozniki also provided all their livestock with basic fodder, and built granaries, livestock shelters, clubs and other buildings ….
“As a result of these efforts, the CBO harvested some 24 per cent more grain in 1933 than in 1932 [Tauger, 199lb: 81]. While weather conditions played a role in these successful results, clearly peasants worked harder and differently in 1933, during the peak of the famine, than they had earlier, and management by the politotdely contributed to this.” (Tauger 2004, 84)
Under these conditions there was little reason for anti-Russian or separatist tendencies among the Ukrainians, and I never encountered them. I was therefore rather surprised to read recently in the respected French paper Le Monde, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the starvation of 1933, that was due to a planned “genocide” of the Ukrainian nation. Given the dire shortage of labor in the Soviet Union at the time, this hypothesis is rather absurd. It is equally absurd to assume that any government could be so stupid as to believe that starvation could be an effective means to break national resistance–in the face of the experience of the Irish famine of the 1840s and many others….
There was indeed a famine in 1933, not just in the Ukraine, but also in other semiarid regions of the USSR, the Lower Volga and the North Caucasus; and Makeyevka, located near the junction of these three regions, felt the full impact of it. Many peasants from there came to the city; the steelworks tried to employ some of them but most left, finding the work too hard. Some were already too far gone, with swollen limbs. There were also many lost children, which were either taken into children’s institutions or, very frequently, adopted by urban families; two of my old friends, building workers from Vienna who at the time worked in Makeyevka, each adopted one such child. Only once did I see a child with spindly legs and a swollen belly; it was in the garden of a nursery school at the hand of a nurse waiting for the doctor. Nor did I ever see a corpse lying in a street….There is no doubt that the famine claimed many victims. I have no basis on which to estimate the number, and I doubt if anybody has. What were the reasons and what could have been done to avoid this terrible calamity? There was a conjunction of a number of factors. First, the hot dry summer of 1932, which I had experienced in northern Vyatka, had resulted in crop failure in the semiarid regions of the South. Second, the struggle for collectivization had disrupted agriculture. Collectivization was not an orderly process following bureaucratic rules. It consisted of actions by the poor peasants, encouraged by the Party. The poor peasants were eager to expropriate the “kulaks,” but less eager to organize a cooperative economy. By 1930 the Party and already sent out cadres to stem and correct excesses. One of the cadres engaged in this work later reported his experience: the local Communists had told him, “We are building socialism in the village, and you and your Stalin are stabbing us in the back.” After having exercised restraint in 1930, the Party put on a drive again in 1932. As a result, in that year the kulak economy ceased to produce, and the new collective economy did not yet produce fully. First claim on the inadequate product went to urban industry and to the armed forces; as the future of the entire nation, including the peasants, depended on them, it could hardly be otherwise. In addition, the depression in the West destroyed the market for oil and timber, with which the Soviets had hoped to pay the debts incurred during the First Five-Year Plan. So, instead of being able to import grain, the Soviet Union actually exported some. What alternatives did they have? I can see only two: use their gold reserve, or get a loan in the West. They tried to do the latter, but obtained it only in 1934 when they no longer needed it. If blame for the terrible suffering of 1932 has to be assigned, it falls in equal parts on the Soviet Government for refusing to part with their gold reserve, and on the West for refusing to loan when it was needed.…Probably most deaths in 1933 were due to epidemics of typhus, typhoid fever, and dysentery. Waterborne diseases were frequent in Makeyevka; I narrowly survived an attack of typhus fever….
In 1933 rainfall was adequate. The Party sent its best cadres to help organize work in the kolkhozes. They succeeded; after the harvest of 1933 the situation improved radically and with amazing speed. I had the feeling that we had been pulling a heavy cart uphill, uncertain if we would succeed; but in the fall of 1933 we had gone over the top and from then on we could move forward at an accelerating pace. Certainly, stupidity and callousness inflicted much avoidable suffering during the process of collectivization, and many Soviet kolkhozes continued to suffer from the fact that they started on the wrong foot–in contrast to those in other countries such as East Germany and Hungary, which have learned from the mistakes made in the Soviet Union. But Soviet agriculture is not the monumental failure which it is often regarded as in the West. Blumenfeld, Hans. Life Begins at 65. Montreal, Canada: Harvest House, c1987, p. 152-154
The Soviet government did have small reserves of grain, but continually drew these down to allocate food to the population. Since virtually the entire country experienced shortages of food, indicating that the procurement and distribution data are reasonably accurate, clearly the Soviet Union faced a severe shortage, and the most important cause of that shortage has to have been small harvests in 1931 and 1932.
Tauger, Mark. Natural Disaster and Human Actions in the Soviet Famine of 1931-1933 Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 2001, p. 5
Tauger cites evidence that many peasants who hated or did not like the kolkhozy nevertheless worked hard in them, while many other peasants “worked willingly during the whole period … siding with the system.” (Tauger 2004, 85) As a result, on the whole peasants accepted collectivization: All of this is not to deny that some peasants in the 1930s, especially in famine years, used the ‘weapons of the weak’ against the kolkhoz system and the Soviet government. The issue is how representative evidence is of peasants generally, which is another way of asking how important such incidents were. Certainly resistance was greater and more important in 1930 and possibly 1932. But any analysis of this must also take into account natural disaster, the diversity of peasants’ responses, and overall results of their work. Studies conducted in the mid- 1930s found that kolkhozniki actually worked harder than non-collectivized peasants had worked in the 1920s, clear evidence of significant adaptation to the new system. (Tauger 2004, 87)
- (Blood Lies, Grover Furr, pg. 59-62)
If the opposing debate team cites Timothy Snyder’s “seven points of proof” (in his book Bloodlands), then check Blood Lies (Grover Furr, 2014, PDF available at bottom of page), Chapter 2, “The Famine of 1932-33 “Deliberate”? Snyder’s “Seven Points” of Proof”, where Furr checks Snyder’s sources, and question whoever cites Snyder’s pathetic “seven points”:
Snyder requires the “deliberate starvation” thesis in order to compare the Soviets with the Nazis, Stalin with Hitler, in respect to “mass murder.” The “seven points” are supposed to represent Snyder’s evidence that the Soviet leadership was deliberately starving the Ukraine. Readers should satisfy themselves that every reference Snyder cites to document his claims in the “seven points” has been carefully checked. Not a single one of them provides any evidence for Snyder’s claim of deliberate starvation.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 101
causes of the famine: drought, sabotage, soviet amateurish planning, excesses and mistakes in history’s first mass socialization of agriculture in the context of a hostile international environment.
Tottle, Douglas. Fraud, Famine, and Fascism. Toronto: Progress Books,1987, p. 91-92
On the calculation of the death toll, and population statistics
Dushnyck’s ‘method’ consists of projecting an anticipated population growth rate, based on the 1926 census, onto the listed population of the 1939 census for Ukraine. The difference between the hypothetical estimate and the 1939 census listing is then pronounced to be ‘famine victims.’…For example, Dushnyck states: ‘taking the data according to the 1926 census… and the January 17, 1939 census… and the average increase before the collectivization… (2.36% per year), it can be calculated that Ukraine… lost 7 1/2-million people between the two censuses.’ “
Tottle, Douglas. Fraud, Famine, and Fascism. Toronto: Progress Books,1987, p. 69
[In his report to the 17th Party Congress in January 1934 Stalin stated] We had an increase in the population of the Soviet Union from 160,500,000 at the end of 1930 to 168 million at the end of 1933.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 13, p. 343
Note: from the above evidence we can conclude that since there were 3 million people who were called Russian in 1929, that a figure above 5 million is unlikely, mention the goal of trying to get a higher estimate than that of the holocaust.
Albert Szymanski, in criticizing an estimate of 3 million deaths, has noted:
“This estimate assumes: (1) that even in the conditions of extreme famine, instability and virtual Civil War, peasants would conceive at the same rate as in less precarious periods; (2) that abortion or infanticide (intentional or not) did not significantly increase; (3) that there were as many women of maximum reproductive age in 1932-1933 as before or after. All of these assumptions are erroneous. All peasants have traditional techniques of birth control and are thus able to limit their reproduction to a significant degree; it is the economic benefit attendant upon having large families which is operative… (Further) legal abortion was so widely practiced in this period that, in 1936, the state banned it as part of the campaign to increase the population.”
A decline in the birth rate could thus have been expected, and not only due to the reasons outlined by Szymanski. In examining the demographics of the famine era, Wheatcroft states:
“As is well known, the First World War, Civil War and the early years of the 1920s caused a great gap in births in these years. The age cohort born in 1914 would have been 16 in 1930 and so would have been just entering the period of major reproduction. Consequently, Lorimer and other scholars have concluded that the age structure of the population would have led to a decline in births throughout the early 1930s and until the missing populations born into the 1914-1922 age cohorts have passed on well into the future.”
James Mace states: “If we subtract our estimate of the post-famine population from the pre-famine population, the difference is 7,954,000, which can be taken as an estimate of the number of Ukrainians who died before their time…Mace is confusing population deficits with excess mortality.
Tottle, Douglas. Fraud, Famine, and Fascism. Toronto: Progress Books,1987, p. 71
The borders of the Ukraine were not even the same in 1926 and 1939. The Kuban Cossaks, between 2 and 3 million people, were registered as Ukrainian in 1926, but were reclassified as Russian at the end of the twenties. This new classification explains by itself 25 to 40 per cent of the `victims of the famine-genocide’ calculated by Dushnyck–Mace.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 107 [p. 91 on the NET]
(Alec Nove) Additionally, the figures on famine-related deaths cannot be precise, for “definitional” reasons…. Ukrainian statistics show a very large decline in births in 1933-34, which could be ascribed to a sharp rise in abortions and also to the non-reporting of births of those who died in infancy.
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 269
Concerning the scale of the famine in 1932/33, we now have much better information on its chronology and regional coverage amongst the civilian registered population. The level of excess mortality registered by the civilian population was in the order of 3 to 4 million… which is still much lower than the figures claimed by Conquest and Rosefielde and Medvedev.
Getty and Manning. Stalinist Terror. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 290
While it is not possible to establish an exact number of casualties, we have seen that the guesstimates of famine-genocide writers have given a new meaning to the word hyperbole. Their claims have been shown to be extreme exaggerations fabricated to strengthen their political allegations of genocide.
Tottle, Douglas. Fraud, Famine, and Fascism. Toronto: Progress Books,1987, p. 74
The scope of the hardships is chauvinistically restricted, distorted, and politically manipulated. Other nationalities who suffered–Russians, Turkmen, Kazaks, Caucasus groups– are usually ignored, or if mentioned at all are done so almost reluctantly in passing.
Tottle, Douglas. Fraud, Famine, and Fascism. Toronto: Progress Books,1987, p. 99
“They came [Hungry people to Dr. Hans Blumenfeld’s town] not only from the Ukraine but in equal numbers from the Russian areas to our east. This disproves the “fact” of anti-Ukrainian genocide parallel to Hitler’s anti-semitic Holocaust. To anyone familiar with the Soviet Union’s desperate manpower shortage in those years, the notion that its leaders would deliberately reduce that scarce resource is absurd…. Up to the 1950s the most frequently quoted figure was 2 million [victims]. Only after it had been established that Hitler’s holocaust had claimed 6 million [Jewish] victims, did anti-Soviet propaganda feel it necessary to top that figure by substituting the fantastic figure of 7 to 10 million….” Tottle, Douglas. Fraud, Famine, and Fascism. Toronto: Progress Books,1987, p. 100
Fake photographs, unscientific statistics-juggling and politically motivated hearsay and testimony are among the many devices employed to embellish allegations of famine-genocide.
Tottle, Douglas. Fraud, Famine, and Fascism. Toronto: Progress Books,1987, p. 91-92
Intellectual rejection of the holodomor
“There is no evidence it was intentionally directed against Ukrainians,” said Alexander Dallin of Stan-
ford, the father of modern Sovietology. “That wouldbe totally out of keeping with what we know – it
makes no sense.” “This is crap, rubbish,” said Moshe Lewin of the University of Pennsylvania, whose Russian Peasants and Soviet Power broke new ground in social history. “I am an anti-Stalinist, but I don’t see how this [genocide] campaign adds to our knowledge. It’s adding horrors, adding horrors, until it becomes
a pathology.” “I absolutely reject it,” said Lynne Viola of SUNY-Binghamton, the first US historian to examine Mos-
cow’s Central State Archive on collectivization. “Why in god’s name would this paranoid govern-
ment consciously produce a famine when they were terrified of war [with Germany]?” These premier Soviet Ologists dismiss Conquest for what he is – an ideologue whose serious work is long behind him. But Dallin stands as a liberal exception to the hard-liners of his generation, while Lewin and Viola remain Young Turks who happen to be doing the freshest work on this period. In Soviet studies, where rigor and objectivity count for less than the party line, where fierce anti-Communists still control the prestigious institutes and first-rank departments, a Conquest can survive and prosper while barely cracking a book. “He’s terrible at doing research,” said veteran So-
sovietologist Roberta Manning of Boston College.” He misuses sources, he twists everything.”1
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 45-46
As his seventh point Snyder claims that in December 1932 Stalin decided that seed grain should be seized to meet the grain collection quota, while the USSR still had a reserve of three million tons of grain and continued to export grain. He further claims that “many” of the the 3 7,392 people recorded as having been arrested that month were “presumably trying to save their families from starvation.” His evidence (n. 66, page 466):
*”On the 37,392 people arrested, see Marochko, Holodomor, 192.” *Davies, Years, 161-163.
During January, 150 “terrorist acts” were committed, of which “physical terror” amounted to 80.9% of the cases, and in villages 37,797 persons were arrested. Among those arrested were “fugitives” – 8145 people, 1,471 heads of kolkhozes, 388 heads of village councils, 1335 chairmen of boards of collective farms, 1820 steward and storekeepers, 7,906 kolkhozniks. 12,076 cases of those indicted were reviewed, including 719 sentenced to death, to labor camps – 8003, to exile – 2533, to forced labor – 281 / This is a simple list of arrests and dispositions of cases during January, 1933. There is no indication whatsoever that even a single one of these cases have to do with “trying to save their families from starvation,” as Snyder claims. Even Snyder has to add the word “presumably” – an admission that he has invented the business about “saving their families from starvation.”
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pgs. 98 & 99
Why would Snyder mention only the Ukraine? [Reffering to the order of January 22, 1933…to stop peasants…from moving to other areas] Probably to please Ukrainian nationalists, who have indeed celebrated Snyder’s book, invited him to give talks in Ukraine, and published a Ukrainian translation of Blood/ands.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 98
“Ukrainian nationalist groups entered the USSR with the Nazis and collaborated in massacring at least hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens..”
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 44
The Black Deeds of the Kremlin, Volume 1, page 284. Its source is an unidentified person using the name “Mariupilsky” – the story is set in the town of Mariupil’. This book was published in the mid-19 5 Os by Ukrainian emigres in Canada who had collaborated with the Nazis and written hair-raising anti semitic propaganda to recruit other Ukrainians to the pro-Nazi forces. At least one identifiable Ukrainian fascist recounts a story in it.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014, pg. 122, See the note to the book by Douglas Tottle in the previous chapter.
[The witness Ol’ga Odlyga] Refuses to testify that she saw policemen arresting. starving people, despite leading questions by the Ukrainian-speaking interviewer.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 121
“[Ukrainian nationalists} also committed the “Volhynian massacres” of 50,000 – 100,000 Polish peasants…”
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 44
“Ukrainian researchers have been unable to find any documentary support for their claim of deliberate star-
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 46
Davies ~o~s dis~uss Kaganovich’s trip, though only on page 192. But Davies outlme of what Kaganovich’s message was is quite different from Snyder’s characterization of it. When the Plenipotentiary of the USSR party central committee in Chernigov declared that the region would complete 85 per cent of its plan by January 1, Kaganovich interrupted: “For us the figure 85% does not exist. We need 100%. Workers are fed on grain and not on percentages.” He addressed a conference of district secretaries in Odessa region in even more uncompromising Terms: There is no need to punch people in the jaw. But carefully organized searches of collective farmers, communists and workers as well as individual peasants are not going too far. The village must be given a shove, so that the peasants themselves reveal the grain pits … When our spirit is not as hard as metal the grain collections don’t succeed. According to Davies Kaganovich specifically opposed the demand that collective farmers return the grain they had been issued as advance payment for their labor days. … the compulsory return of part of their grain advances by collective farmers risked ‘creating a united front against us, insulting the shock worker, and undermining the basis of the labor days.’ In-stead he [Kaganovich] advocated an intensive search for stolen grain … (194). As for the seed grain, Kaganovich defended the seizure of seed on the grounds that it could be assembled again after the grain collection was complete. (194) In other words Kaganovich never planned to keep the seed grain but, evidently, to hold it hostage to guarantee grain deliveries and then to return it. Davies concludes: The decision was perverse, and was ultimately ineffective. Its consequence was that the central authorities had to issue substantial seed loans to Ukraine during the spring sowing. (195, emphasis added) So some seed grain was to be collected from recalcitrant peasants but it was returned for sowing in the spring.
Collectivisation’s role in the famine of 1932-33
The collectivization of agriculture was designed to end the cycle of famines that had tormented Russia and Ukraine for centuries. It was a reform – a significant improvement in the security and lives of the peasant population and therefore of the entire population. It was not undertaken to “tax” or “exploit” the peasants or to extract value from the countryside. On the contrary: during the decade 1929-1939 the Soviet government spent tens of billions of rubles on agriculture.
[T]heir primary goal was increasing food production by using what seemed to be the most modern and reliable methods available at the time. (Tauger 2004, 70)
Stalin and the Bolsheviks viewed collectivization as the only way to swiftly modernize agriculture, to put an end to the wasteful and labor-consuming cultivation of individual land holdings, often in tiny widely-scattered strips and put it on a large-scale basis. They used the large-scale, highly mechanized agriculture of certain American farms in the West as models for the sovkhozy (Soviet farms). They did not see collectivization as a means of exploitation or as “re-creating serfdom” and certainly not as deliberate killing or genocide. Nor was it.
Chapter 2 of Cameron, “Hungry Steppe,” a 2010 Yale Ph.D. dissertation, contains nothing that supports Snyder’s claim that collectivization “could cause mass starvation,” much less that this was “Clear” Pianciola, “The Collectivization Famine in Kazakhstan,” was published in Harvard Ukrainian Studies, 25 (2001). It contains no evidence that collectivization “could cause mass starvation,” much less of deliberate starvation. Mark, “Hungersnot” does not appear in Snyder’s bibliography. The following article is almost certainly the one meant: Rudolf A Mark, Gerhard Simon, “Die Hungersnot in der Ukraine und anderen Regionen der UdSSR 1932 und 1933”, Osteuropa 54 (2004), S. 5-12. This article is a long series of undocumented assertions reflecting the Ukrainian Nationalist viewpoint that Snyder also echoes. It contains no evidence to support its assertion, which is also Snyder’s, that the famine was caused by collectivization, much less that this was predictable from the outset, as Snyder claims. Davies & Wheatcroft discuss the Kazakhstan famine (322-326 and 408-9). This basic work is also cited by Cameron and Pianciola. They conclude that there was a “population deficit” by 1939 of “some 1.2 million.” This is an estimate based on a projection of what they Kazakh population of Kazakhstan would have been if (1) its natural increase of 1926 had continued through to January 1939 – that is, if there had been no famines in 1928 and 1932-33; and (b) all Kazakhs had remained in Kazakhstan during this entire period. Davies and Wheatcroft cite evidence that large numbers of Kazakhs migrated to other regions in Kazakhstan, and to other regions and republics in search of a livelihood or simply seeking food, while others emigrated to China. ( 409) For these reasons we cannot know precisely how many Kazakhs died of famine – i.e. the surplus of deaths during the famine years. None of these sources establish that collectivization was the “cause” of “mass starvation.” Snyder is guilty of the logical fallacy of “begging the question” – asserting that which ought to be
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pgs. 138 & 139
On the collection of grain
“Orders were given in March, at the beginning of the spring sowing period in the Ukraine and North Caucasus and Lower Volga, that 2 million tons of grain must be collected within 30 days because the Army had to have it…Japan was poised to strike and the Red Army must have reserves of food and gasoline…Now indeed the Russian peasants, kulaks, and collectives, were engulfed in common woe. Their draft animals were dead, killed in an earlier phase of the struggle, and there was no gas for the tractors, and their last reserves of food and seed for the spring had been torn from them by the power of the Kremlin…[this was done because of] fear of Japan” Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 192
“It meant, to say it succinctly, that Stalin had won his bluff: Japan moved south, not north, and Russia could dare to use its best men….
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 195
Export and Aid
Very little investigation shows that relief was repeatedly afforded where there was reason to suppose that the shortage was not due to sabotage or deliberate failure to cultivate. There were, to begin with, extensive remissions of payments in-kind due to the government. But there was also a whole series of transfers of grain from the government stocks to villages found to be destitute, sometimes actually for consumption, and in other cases to replace the seed funds which had been used for food.
“On February 17, 1932… the Council of People’s Commissars…and the Central Committee… directed that the collective farms in the eastern part of the country, which had suffered from the drought, be loaned over 6 million quintals of grain for the establishment of both seed and food funds.”
(“Collectivization of Agriculture in the Soviet Union,” by W. Ladejinsky, Political Science Quarterly, New York, June 1934, page 229).
Webb, S. Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation. London, NY: Longmans, Green, 1947, p. 199-205
[“Ukrainia under Bolshevik Rule” by Isaac Mazepa, in Slavonic Review, January 3, 1934, pages 342-343.] One of the Ukrainian nationalists who was brought to trial is stated to have confessed to having received explicit instructions from the leaders of the movement abroad to the effect that “it is essential that, in spite of the good harvest (of 1930), the position of the peasantry should become worse. For this purpose it is necessary to persuade the members of the kolkhosi to harvest the grain before it has become ripe; to agitate among the kolkhosi members and to persuade them that, however hard they may work, their grain will be taken away from them by the State on one pretext or another; and to sabotage the proper calculation of the labor days put into harvesting by the members of the kolkhosi so that they may receive less than they are entitled to by their work” (Speech by Postyshev, secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party, to plenum of the Central Committee, 1933).
Horror stories about Russia were common in the Western press, particularly among papers and journalist of conservative or fascist orientation. For example, The London Daily Telegraph of November 28, 1930, printed an interview with a Frank Woodhead who had “just returned from Russia after a visit lasting seven months.” Woodhead reported witnessing bloody massacres that November, a slaughter which left “rows of ghastly corpses.”
Louis Fisher, an American writer for the New Republic and The Nation, who was in Moscow at the time of the alleged atrocities, discovered that not only had such events never occurred, but that Woodhead had left the country almost 8 months before the scenes he claimed to have witnessed. Fisher challenged Woodhead and the London Daily Telegraph on the matter; both responded with embarrassed silence.
No famine in 1934 or late 1933
By all credible accounts, the crops of 1933 and 1934 were successful. As a tribute to this fact, very few, if any famine-genocide hustlers today support claims of a 1934 famine. However, both Ammende [Author in 1936 of the famine-genocide book entitled Human Life in Russia], and following him Dalrymple, seemed to have been determined to starve Ukraine to death in 1934 as well. In fact, Dalrymple’s Ammende source for the list of 20 is Ammende’s letter to the New York Times published on July 1, 1934 under the heading “Wide Starvation in Russia Feared.” In a follow-up letter the following month, Ammende wrote that people were dying on the streets of Kiev. Within days, New York Times correspondent Harold Denny cabled a refutation of Ammende’s allegations. Datelined August 23rd, 1934, Denny charged: “This statement certainly has no foundation…. Your correspondent was in Kiev for several days last July about the time people were supposed to be dying there, and neither in the city, nor in the surrounding countryside was their hunger.” Several weeks later, Denny reported: “Nowhere was famine found. Nowhere even the fear of it. There is food, including bread, in the local open markets. The peasants were smiling too, and generous with their foodstuffs. In short, there was no air of trouble or of impending trouble.”
Obviously, nobody had informed the peasants that they were supposed to be falling prostrate with hunger that year.
Tottle, Douglas. Fraud, Famine, and Fascism. Toronto: Progress Books,1987, p. 50
[The accusation against the soviets is] On November 20, 1932 the People’s Commissar of the Ukrainian SSR approved a decision to introduce fines in kind: “to the collective farms, which allowed the theft of kolkhoz grain and maliciously sabotaged the grain procurement plan, to apply fines in kind of an additional task of meat requisitions in 77 the amount of a 15-month norm in contribution by the kolkhoz in question of meat as socialized live stock and of the livestock of kolkhoz members.” On December 6 was approved the decree of the Central Committee of the Ukrainian CP and of the People’s Commissars of Ukrainian SSR “On entering on the ‘black board’ [ = a “blacklist”] villages that willfully sabotage grain procurements.” This decision caused an increase in the victims of the Holodomor. concerning the meat penalty, Shapoval, “Proloh trahedii holodu,” 162; and Maksudov, “Victory,” 188;
Professor Fur’s response is: “There is no source, either printed or archival, for the quotation…Nothing is said about how many kolkhozes this meat penalty was applied to, or indeed whether it was ever applied at all…Nothing is said in the source about it contributing to the famine. This sentence is present in Shapoval’s article and in all the other Internet sites, but there is no evidence to support it.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pgs. 77 & 78
On page 191 Maksudov [another proponent of the the statement repeated above] writes as follows: ‘Among the punishments for those who did not fulfill required grain deliveries was the penalty of having to surrender a fifteen months’ supply of meat in advance. 12 ln other words, the state officials knew there was no grain to be seized in payment. The peasants, of course, considered their livestock as insurance against a famine, either slaughtering the animals for food or selling them in order to buy grain. State confiscation of this livestock was a particularly malicious act. If a peasant sold his livestock on the open market, he could easily have paid his tax, but the authorities did not want it, preferring instead to take the livestock on a low fixed price as a form of punishment for the peasant’s non-payment of taxes. Such penalties in meat did not exempt the peasant from fulfilling his original grain procurement quota, which remained in effect.’ Maksudov’s conclusion in the second sentence does not follow from the first. It is likely – neither Snyder nor Maksudov gives sufficient context – that the “meat penalty” was intended to force peasants to give up grain that they claimed they did not have but in fact had hidden. Also, Maksudov says nothing about the meat tax causing starvation. The question naturally arises: Why don’t Snyder or any of his footnoted sources actually identify and quote the relevant passages from this meat penalty decree? As previously noted Shapoval quotes from it but does not give a reference to the original text. The document is called a “decree of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Ukrainian SSR” but without any indication as to where such documents can be consulted. As it turns out, this is the same document Maksudov refers to…[it] reads as follows: 5. In collective farms that have permitted the theft of kolkhoz grain and are willfully frustrating grain procurement, to apply penalties in kind in the form of fixing additional targets for giving in meat procurements on the order of a 15-month delivery of meat for the collective farm in question, for both socialized livestock and that of the individual farmer. The application of this penalty is to be carried out by the regional (raion) executive committee with prior approval in each case of the provincial ( oblast’) executive committee. Moreover, regional executive committees are to set deadlines for the recovery and the size of the fine for each farm (within the limits of the 15-month norm of meat delivery) according to the situation of the individual collective farms. The imposition of this penalty does not relieve the collective farm of the requirement of full compliance with the established grain procurement plan. If the collective farm has made real efforts for the full implementation of the grain procurement plan within the prescribed period, the penalty can be waived with the prior approval of the provincial executive committee. This Russian text corresponds exactly to the text published in Ukrainian by Shapoval. But Shapoval gave only the first paragraph. With the full text in hand, including the part that describes the “meat penalty” it is clear that Shapoval and Snyder have withheld a few important details from their readers: The local officials – those most closely in touch with each farm – were to impose this meat fine. * They had to receive prior permission from the provincial government each time before imposing this fine. *The 15-month meat delivery was the limit of the fine, its maximum size. A lesser fine could be levied”according to the situation of the individual kolkHoz.” * The third paragraph makes it clear that the purpose is to push recalcitrant kolkhozes to make “real efforts” to fulfill its grain collection plan. If they did so the fine could be cancelled even if already levied. Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 80 & 81
If you believe the official site of the Institute of National Memory – 882,510! Just think about it for a minute: the authors of the regional “Books of Memory” inscribed in the memory of all those who died and died from January 1, 1932 to December 31, 1933, regardless of the causes of death, duplicating some of the names – and were able to gain less than a million victims, that is quite comparable with the annual (!) mortality in modern Ukraine. While the official number of “victims of the Holodomor” is inexorably increasing every year, it reaches 15 million (and I’ve already heard 20 million on some talk shows!)!
Actual numbers of people sentenced to death during dekulakization
|All sentences||Death sentences||Of which, death sentences by troiki|
Sources: All sentences in cases prosecuted by OGPU, GARF, f. 9401, op. 1, 11. 203–4. All USSR death sentences by OGPU Collegium and by troiki: Rasstrel¢nye spiski, vyp. 2, Vagan¢kovskoe kladbishche, 1926–1936 (Moscow, 1995), pp. 281–2. All Moscow Sakharov Foundation: http://memory.sakharov-center.ru/. Calculated from full listing in Moscow Memorial: Rasstrel¢nye spiski, vyp. 2. Altai data calculated from 10 per cent of listing in Altai ASSR: Zhertvy politcheskikh repressii v Altaiskom Krae, vol. 1, 1919–1930gg. (Barnaul, 1998), and vol. 2, 1931–1936gg. (Barnaul, 1999). Tomsk oblast¢: Yu. K. Kuperta, ed., Repressii kak eto bylo … (Zap. Sib v kontse 20-kh nach. 50-kh godov) (Tomsk, 1995), pp. 99, 126–7. Note: Data for Samara city have also been analysed for these years, but curiously they present no figures on executions in these years. Samarskaya Oblast¢ Belaya kniga o zhertvakh politicheskikh repressii, vols 1–6 (Samara, 1997–98).
- (Just cite Stephen G. Wheatcroft Challenging Traditional Views of Russian History (2002) pp. 118-121)
Grain Procurements (And General Grain Collection)
The following statement of Snyder’s reveals his dishonesty with special clarity: At the end of December 1932, Stalin had approved Kaganovich’s proposal that the seed grain for the spring be seized to make the annual target. This left the collective farms with nothing to plant for the coming fall. ( 46) Of course nothing of the kind happened. Stalin and Kaganovich would have indeed been stupid to take away seed grain and leave nothing to sow. This is probably a reference to the Politburo directive of December 29, 1932…The governm_ent refused to accept less than the grain delivery quota, assuming that kolkhozes and individual peasants who did not fulfill their grain collection quota were hiding grain. Why hide grain? To eat, of course – but also, to sell. Large profits could be made by selling grain illegally, on the black market, during a famme, when its pnce would be much higher than normal.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 100
One last point here: Snyder claims that the Soviet Union had three million tons [of grain] in reserve. Davies and Wheatcroft do not directly state how much “reserve” (they use the term “stocks”) were on hand in December 1932, but they say “the June  plan” was for 3.608 million tons, and conclude: This hopeful estimate must have been regarded with great skepticism by the few officials who knew the fate of previous attempts to stockpile grain. (186-7) Later they state that in fact “on July 1, 1933 total stocks amounted to 1.392 million tons,” some of which was seed grain. (229) Snyder does not tell us where has found the figure of 3 million tons of reserves in December 1932.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 100
The grain trade harmed everything the Soviets were trying to do:
collect grain as tax from the collective farms to feed workers in the cities; ration grain so as to spread out what was available as equitably as possible given the crop failures and famine. Collective farmers who sold grain sometimes stole it from the kolkhoz, which meant it was not available either for grain collection by the State or for the use of the other kolkhozniks. Only those with money -that is, not the village poor – could buy grain, so the grain trade threatened to destroy any attempt to ration grain in the famine conditions. That would mean that, as in all previous famines, those better off would eat while the poor would starve.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 99
There was no choice but to take grain from peasants in the countryside in order to redistribute it in a more egalitarian manner, as well as to feed the cities and the army, which produced little food. Whatever excesses or cruelty took place were the inevitable result of errors in the plan for carrying out collectivization.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 61
Not the Soviet, but the Ukrainian Politburo did approve a document allowing for confiscation of seed grain, though only under extreme circumstances. It was Stalin and the Moscow Politburo that cancelled this decision! As a result Ukrainian First Secretary Kosior apologized for drafting the document in question.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 76
The issue seems to be as follows. Some kolkhozes had stated that they had no more grain except for seed grain. The Party did not believe them. If the Party accepted the statement of every such kolkhoz, then more kolkhozes would make the same claim, in order to avoid grain collections, and the grain collection would fail. That would mean starvation in the cities and towns, where the residents could not grow their own grain. Therefore, the excuse that “we only have our seed grain left” was not to be accepted. Note that Graziosi lied when he stated that all seed grain had to be given in. The document Graziosi himself identifies as his source clearly states that seed grain was to be collected only from those kolkhozes that had failed to fulfill their quota in the grain collections.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 91
Collectivised farms were more efficient
In 1934, the following areas, by social sector, were sown to the crop concerned (as percentages of the total crop):
|Sovkhozy and kolkhozy||Collective farmers on household plots||Individual peasants|
(estimated from data in Sel. kh. 1935 (1936), 264).
Like the Tsarist governments the Soviet government exported grain. Contracts were signed in advance, which created the dilemma Tauger describes as follows:
“The low 1931 harvest and reallocations of grain to famine areas forced the regime to curtail grain exports from 5.2 million tons in 1931 to 1.73 million in 1932; they declined to 1.68 million in 1933. Grain exported in 1932 and 1933 could have fed many people and reduced the famine: The 354,000 tons exported during the first half of 1933, for example, could have provided nearly 2 million people with daily rations of 1 kilogram for six months. Yet these exports were less than half of the 750,000 tons exported in the first half of 1932. How Soviet leaders calculated the relative costs of lower exports and lower domestic food supplies remains uncertain, but available evidence indicates that further reductions or cessation of Soviet exports could have had serious consequences. Grain prices fell in world markets and turned the terms of trade against the Soviet Union in the early 1930s, its indebtedness rose and its potential ability to pay declined, causing western bankers and officials to consider seizure of Soviet property abroad and denial of future credits in case of Soviet default. Failure to export thus would have threatened the fulfillment of its industrialization plans and, according to some observers, the stability of the regime.”
At the same time that the USSR was exporting it was also allocating much more grain to seed and famine relief. Tauger documents the fact that the Central Committee allocated more than half a million tons to Ukraine and North Cato famine relief. Soviet archival sources indicate that the regime returned five million tons of grain from procurements back to villages throughout the USSR in the first half of 1933 (Tauger 1991, 72; 88- 89). All of these amounts greatly exceed the amount exported in this period.
The Soviet government was faced with a situation where there was simply not enough food to feed the whole population even if all exports had been stopped instead of just drastically curtailed, as they were.
The severity and geographical extent of the famine, the sharp decline in exports in 1932-1933, seed requirements, and the chaos in the Soviet Union in these years, all lead to the conclusion that even a complete cessation of exports would not have been enough to prevent famine. This situation makes it difficult to accept the interpretation of the famine as the result of the 1932 grain procurements and as a conscious act of genocide. The harvest of 1932 essentially made a famine inevitable. (Tauger 1991 88; 89. Emphasis added)
Grain delivery targets (procurement quotas) were drastically cut back multiple times for both collective and individual farmers in order to share the scarcity. Some of what was procured was returned to the villages. (Tauger 1991, 72-3) It is these collection efforts, often carried out in a very harsh way, that are highlighted by promoters of the “intentionalist” interpretation as evidence of callousness and indifference to peasants’ lives or even of intent to punish or kill.
Meanwhile the regime used these procurements to feed 40 million people in the cities and industrial sites who were also starving, further evidence that the harvest was small. In May 1932 the Soviet government legalized the private trade in grain. But very little grain was sold this way in 1932-1933. This too is a further indication ofa small 1932 harvest. (Tauger 1991, 72-74)
“[Soviet] aid [to Ukraine] included five million tons of food distributed as relief, including to Ukraine, beginning as early as February 7, 1933; 16 the provision of tractors and other equipment distributed especially to Ukraine…”
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 70 and citation 16 of this book.
Five days later, on June 23, 1932, Kaganovich wrote to Stalin that, in his opinion, the quantity of grain for the 3rd quarter of 1932 must be “somewhat” reduced. Snyder does not mention this. On July 10 1932 the PB [Politburo] decided to lower the indicated amount of grain for export in the 3rd quarter and to establish it firmly on July 16 …. At the PB session of July 16 the export of grain for the 3rd quarter was set at 31.5 million poods (excluding legumes), 20 million poods as a guarantee [i.e. in reserve] and 10 million poods carried over, in total: 61.5 million poods. On October 20 1932 the PB adopted a decision to reduce the export from the 1932 harvest from 165 to 150 million tons.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 126 & 127
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pp. 67-69ucasus in February, and more than half a million tons to Ukraine alone by April 1933. The government also accumulated some 3 million tons in reserves during this period and then allocated 2 million tons from that
Kusnierz, 156 (not 157), citing a Ukrainian nationalist source, says that 27,454 homeless children were “rounded up” in the whole Kharkov oblast’ by May 28, 1933. It does not say that all, or indeed any, of these children were in “the barracks of Kharkiv” or “awaiting death,” as Snyder claims. Evidence cited below shows that children were given special priority for emergency food supplies, and that the Soviet Politburo – “Stalin” – issued some of these orders. Kusnierz notes (p. 156, n. 277) that “according to other data” 6378 children had been taken from the streets of Khar’kov by the end of May, 1933. This figure is contained in Kusnierz’s source…[http://www.archives.gov.ua/Sections/Famine/Publicat/Fam-Pyrig-1933.php#nom-233]…This document appears to reflect attempts by the Khar’kov city authorities to aid homeless children. Snyder has fabricated the claim that the purpose was “to get them [the homeless children] out of sight.”
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pgs. 120 & 121
So it is true that Stalin rejected the June 17 request of the Ukrainian Party’s Politburo for more food aid. But what Snyder, as well as the editors of the Stalin-Molotov correspondence, did not disclose to their readers is that one day earlier, on June 16, Stalin etal. had ordered a very large quantity of food grains to the Ukraine. It is crucial to Snyder’s thesis to claim or imply that the Soviet government did not send food aid to the Ukraine. “Deliberation starvation of Ukraine”, the “Holodomor”, is incompatible with serious attempts by the Soviet state to alleviate the famine. But that is what happened. Here is a passage from a 1991 article by Mark Tauger: The harvest decline also decreased the regime’s reserves of grain for export. This drop in reserves began with the drought-reduced 1931 harvest and subsequent procurements, which brought famine to the Volga region, Siberia, and other areas. Soviet leaders were forced to return procured grain to those areas in 1932. The low 1931 harvest and real-locations of grain to famine areas forced the regime to curtail grain exports from 5.2 million tons in 19 31 to 1. 73 million in 193 2; they declined to 1.68 million in 1933. Grain exported in 1932 and 1933 could have fed many people and reduced the famine: The 354,000 tons exported during the first half of 1933, for example, could have provided nearly 2 million people with daily rations of l kilogram for six months. Yet these exports were less than half of the 750,000 tons exported in the first half of 1932.s1 How Soviet leaders calculated the relative costs of lower exports and lower domestic food supplies remains uncertain, but available evidence indicates that further reductions or cessation of Soviet exports could have had serious consequences. Grain prices fell in world markets and turned the terms of trade against the Soviet Union in the early 1930s, its indebtedness rose and its potential ability to pay declined, causing western bankers and officials to consider seizure of Soviet property abroad and denial of future credits in case of Soviet default. Failure to export thus would have threatened the fulfillment of its industrialization plans and, according to some observers, the stability of the regime.52 While the leadership did not stop exports, they did try to alleviate the famine. A 25 February 1933 Central Committee decree allotted seed loans of 320,000 tons to Ukraine and 240,000 tons to the northern Caucasus. Seed loans were also made to the Lower Volga and may have been made to other regions as well. Kulchytskyy cites Ukrainian party archives showing that total aid to Ukraine by April 1933 actually exceeded 560,000 tons, including more than 80,000 tons of food. Aid to Ukraine alone was 60 percent greater than the amount exported during the same period. Total aid to famine regions was more than double exports for the first half of 1933. It appears to have been another consequence of the low 1932 harvest that more aid was not provided: After the low 1931, 1934, and 1936 harvests procured grain was transferred back to peasants at the expense of exports.53 The low 1932 harvest meant that the regime did not have sufficient grain for urban and rural food supplies, seed, and exports. The authorities curtailed all of these, but ultimately rural food supplies had last priority. The harsh 1932-1933 procurements only displaced the famine from urban areas which would have suffered a similar scale of mortality without the grain the procurements provided (though, as noted above, urban mortality rates also rose in 1933). The severity and geographical extent of the famine, the sharp decline in exports in 1932-1933, seed requirements, and the chaos in the Soviet Union in these years, all lead to the conclusion that even a complete cessation of exports would not have been enough to prevent famine.s4 This situation makes it difficult to accept the interpretation of the famine as the result of the 1932 grain procurements and as a conscious act of genocide. The harvest of 1932 essentially made a famine inevitable.9 (Emphasis added.) For our present purposes Tauger’s heavily-documented account shows that: 1. The Soviet Politburo did provide a great deal of aid, both in seed grain and in food, to the Ukraine. 2. Stopping all exports would have seriously harmed, perhaps destroyed, Soviet foreign credit and either seriously delayed industrialization or caused it to fail altogether. In a footnote Tauger provides evidence from British archives that Soviet failure to meet its export obligations would have brought disaster: a refusal of future credits, seizure of Soviet assets abroad, and so, probably, the failure of the industrialization program. But it was industrialization that, together with collectivization, broke the thousand-year cycle of famines in Russia. Industrialization was essential to preventing further famines, as well as to industrialization of other areas of the economy and the modernization of the military. 3. Tauger concludes that “even a complete cessation of exports would not have been enough to prevent famine.” Davies and Wheatcroft outline the deepening crisis after the Spring of 1932, along with the extensive aid in both seed grain and food granted by the authorities to the affected areas, including to the Ukraine. They document how hunger weakened the farmers and led to late sowing and poor weeding, which further lessened the harvest. Armed with more accurate weather information they “conclude that the weather in 1932 was much more unfavourable than we had previously realized.” (119) The state made advances to collective farmers in order to bring in the harvest (124-5).
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pgs. 132,133, & 134
However, on pages 221 ff. Davies and Wheatcroft outline Soviet efforts to help Ukrainian children: Considerable efforts were made to supply grain to hungry children, irrespective of their parents’ roles in society. The Vinnitsa decision of April 29, insisting that most grain should be distributed to those who were active in agriculture, also allocated gram specifically to creches and children’s institutes in the badly-hit districts. On May 20, the USSR Politburo [in Moscow, led by Stalin – GF] issued a grain loan to the Crimea specifically for children in need and aged invalids … (Emphasis added)
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 121
No. 144. Decree of Politburo of the CC VCP(b) [= Central Committee of the All-Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), the formal name for the Party until October 1952] concerning foodstuff aid to the Ukrainian SSR of June 16, 1932 [the title is in Ukrainian; the text in Russian]: a) To release to the Ukraine 2000 tons of oats for food needs from the unused seed reserves; b) to release to the Ukraine 100,000 poods of corn for food of that released for sowing for the Odessa oblast’ but not used for that purpose; c) to release 70,000 poods of grain for sugar-beet Soviet farms of the Ukrainian SSR for food needs; d) to release 230,000 poods of grain for collective farms in the sugar-beet regions of the Ukrainian SSR for food needs; e) to require com. Chu bar’ to personally verify the fulfillment of the released grain for the sugar-beet Soviet and collective farms, that it be used strictly for this purpose; f) to release 25,000 poods of grain for the sugarbeet Soviet farms of the Central Black Earth Region for food needs in connection with the gathering of the harvest, first requiring com. Vareikis to personally verify that the grain released is used for the assigned purpose; g) by the present decision to consider the question of food aid to sugar-beet producing Soviet and collective farms closed.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 131
A similar resolution of February 22, 1933, by the Kiev Oblast’ politburo of the Ukrainian Communist Party to provide food relief to all those struck by famine, is reproduced in translation in the 1997 Library of Congress volume Revelations from the Russian Archives, ed. Diane P. Koenker and Ronald D. Bachman, as document 187 on
- 417-418.2 [I have put these documents online at http://msuweb.montclair.edu/-furrg/research/ukfaminedocs97.pdf The document in question is on pages 17 and 18 of this 22-page collection.]
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 122
[Ukrainian peasants] were supported by draconian and coer-cive laws enforcing labour discipline in the farms in certain regions, but also by the largest allocations of seed and food aid in Soviet history, 5.76 million tons,
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 65
On 17 June 1932, the Ukrainian Politburo sent Kaganovich and Molotov the following telegram: On the instructions of our Central Committee, Chu bar’ has initiated a request to grant food assistance to Ukraine for districts experiencing a
state of emergency. We urgently request additional means for processing sugar beets, and also supplemental aid: in addition to the 220,000, and other 600,000 pounds of bread.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pgs. 127 & 128
Meanwhile the regime used these procurements to feed 40 million people in the cities and industrial sites who were also starving, further evidence that the harvest was small. In May 1932 the Soviet government legalized the private trade in grain. But very little grain was sold this way in 1932-1933. This too is a further indication ofa small 1932 harvest. (Tauger 1991, 72-74)
“…the Soviet regime, through its rationing systems, fed more than 50 million people, including many peasants…”
(Tauger 2001b, 46, 47), Retrieved from Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 71
About 10 per cent of the population of Ukraine died from the famine or associated diseases. But 90 per cent survived, the vast majority of whom were peasants, army men of peasant background, or workers of peasant origin. The surviving peasants had to work very hard, under conditions of insufficient food, to sow and bring in the 1933 harvest. They did so with significant aid from the Soviet government. A smaller population, reduced in size by deaths, weakened by hunger, with fewer draught animals, was nevertheless able to produce a successful harvest in 1933 and put an end to the famine. This is yet more evidence that the 1932 harvest had been a catastrophically poor one. (Tauger 2004)
Government aid included five million tons of food distributed as relief, including to Ukraine, beginning as early as February 7, 1933; (https://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/research/aidtoukraine020733.pdf) the provision of tractors and other equipment distributed especially to Ukraine; “a network of several thousand political departments in the machine-tractor stations which contributed greatly to the successful harvest in 1933” (Tauger 2012b ); other measures, including special commissions on sowing and harvesting to manage work and distribute seed and food aid.
“This interpretation of the 1932-1933 famine as the result of the largest in a series of natural disasters suggests an alternative approach to the intentionalist view of the famine. Some advocates of the peasant resistance view argue that the regime took advantage of the famine to retaliate against the peasants and force them to work harder. Famine and deaths from starvation, however, began in 1928 in towns and some rural areas because of low harvests and of some peasants’ unwillingness to sell their surpluses. The food supply generally deteriorated over the next few years, due not only to exports in 1930-1931 but also to the crop failures of 1931-1932. The harsh procurements of 1931 and 1932 have to be understood in the context of famine that prevailed in towns as well as villages throughout the Soviet Union by late 1931; by 1932-1933, as noted above, workers as well as peasants were dying of hunger. If we are to believe that the regime starved the peasants to induce labor discipline in the farms, are we to interpret starvation in the towns as the regime’s tool to discipline blue and white collar workers and their wives and children? While Soviet food distribution policies are beyond the scope of this article, it is clear that the small harvests of 1931-1932 created shortages that affected virtually everyone in the country and that the Soviet regime did not have the internal resources to alleviate the crisis.
“Finally, this essay shows that while the USSR experienced chronic drought and other natural disasters earlier, those which occurred in 1932 were an unusual and severe combination of calamities in a country with heightened vulnerability to such incidents …. The evidence and analysis I have presented here show that the Soviet famine was more serious and more important an event than most previous studies claim, including those adhering to the Ukrainian nationalist interpretation, and that it resulted from a highly abnormal combination of environmental and agricultural circumstances. By drawing attention to these circumstances, this study also demonstrates the importance of questioning accepted political interpretations and of considering the environmental aspects of famines and other historical events that involve human interaction with the natural world. That the Soviet regime, through its rationing systems, fed more than 50 million people, including many peasants, during the famine, however poorly, and that at least some peasants faced with famine undertook to work with greater intensity despite their hostility to the regime in 1933, and to some extent in previous years as well, indicate that all those involved in some way recognized the uniqueness of this tragic event.” (Tauger 2001b, 46, 47)
- Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pp. 69-71
Relief Efforts Decree:
No. 144. Decree of Politburo of the CC VCP(b) [= Central Committee of the All-Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), the formal name for the Party until October 1952] concerning foodstuff aid to the Ukrainian SSR of June 16, 1932 [the title is in Ukrainian; the text in Russian]:
- a) To release to the Ukraine 2000 tons of oats for food needs from the unused seed reserves;
- b) to release to the Ukraine 100,000 poods of corn for food of that released for sowing for the Odessa oblast’ but not used for that purpose;
- c) to release 70,000 poods of grain for sugar-beet Soviet farms of the Ukrainian SSR for food needs;
- d) to release 230,000 poods of grain for collective farms in the sugar-beet regions of the Ukrainian SSR for food needs;
- e) to require com. Chubar’ to personally verify the fulfillment of the released grain for the sugar-beet Soviet and collective farms, that it be used strictly for thisi purpose;
- f) to release 25,000 poods of grain for the sugarbeet Soviet farms of the Central Black Earth Region for food needs in connection with the gathering of the harvest, first requiring com. Vareikis to personally verify that the grain released is used for the assigned purpose;
- g) by the present decision to consider the question of food aid to sugar-beet producing Soviet and collective farms closed.
Was the famine meant to punish peasants?
“…workers as well as peasants were dying of hunger. If we are to believe that the regime starved the peasants to induce labor discipline in the farms, are we to interpret starvation in the towns as the regime’s tool to discipline blue and white collar workers and their wives and children?”
(Tauger 2001b, 46, 47), Retrieved from Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 70
Famines in Russian history
Some advocates of the peasant resistance view argue that the regime took advantage of the famine to retaliate against the peasants and force them to work harder. Famine and deaths from starvation, however, began in 1928 in towns and some rural areas because of low harvests and of some peasants’ unwillingness to sell their surpluses.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 70
Famine has struck Russia hundreds of times during the past millennium. A 1988 account by Russian scholars traces these famines through historical records from the year 736 A.D. to 1914. Many of these famines struck Ukraine as well.
The year of the two Russian revolutions, 1917, saw a serious crop failure leading to an urban famine in 1917-18. In the 1920s the USSR had a series of famines: in 1920-1923 in the Volga and Ukraine plus one in western Siberia in 1923; in the Volga and Ukraine again in 1924-25, and a serious and little-studied famine in Ukraine in 1928-1929.
In 1920-1923 Russia experienced a devastating famine, often called the Volga famine – a misnomer since it affected at least the Volga region, Ukraine, and the North Caucasus – with accompanying typhus epidemic. The Soviet government requested and received considerable help from abroad, including from the famous commission headed by Norwegian explorer and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen and Herbert Hoover’s American Relief Administration. (The Nansen commission took many photographs of the dead, dying, and starving. Some of these have been used repeatedly by Ukrainian Nationalists to illustrate their works on the 1932-33 famine.)
Another famine struck in 1924-1925. Again in 1927-1928 a terrible crop failure struck the Ukraine, the result of a combination of natural disasters.
The Soviet Ukrainian government established a famine relief commission, the Uriadkom,13 the central government in Moscow transported food from the Russian Republic to Ukraine, and the Uriadkom distributed food to nearly 400,000 peasants, as well as livestock feed, farm equipment, and credits. (Tauger 2012a; Tauger 2001a)
This history of a thousand years of frequent famine and of a dozen years that witnessed three significant crop failures and subsequent famines is the essential context for understanding the famine of 1932-1933 and the response of the Soviet government to it.
The Ukrainian famine of 1928-29 was the third famine in the Soviet Union in seven years due to a natural disaster and was the most extreme part of a broader food-supply crisis that affected most of the country. This crisis did not result exclusively or even mainly from price policies. The Soviet Union clearly had an extreme vulnerability to natural disasters, and Soviet leaders interpreted this vulnerability in comparison to the West as. a sign of agricultural backwardness. For Soviet leaders, the Ukrainian famine was an important part of the argument that Soviet agriculture had to be changed. (Tauger 2001a 169-70)
- Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pp. 57-59
Paradoxically, supporters of the “Holodomor” myth remain silent about the fact that Russia (including the territory of modern Ukraine) had suffered from periodic devastating famines since the end of 19th century, long before Bolsheviks came to power in 1917. They also ignore the fact that there were serious famines in 1920-21, 1924, 1927 and 1928.Interestingly enough, official Soviet Ukrainian primary sources show that the 1928-29 famine, caused by natural disaster, mainly draught, was very serious, and Ukraine received more aid from the Soviet government, than it sent to other parts of the USSR.
No. 219 Decree of the SNK of the Ukrainian SSR and CC of the CPU(b) “On inscribing on the black board of villages that maliciously sabotage grain collection.”
The SNK and CC decree: For flagrant disruption of the grain collections plan and malicious sabotage organized by kulak and counterrevolutionary elements, the following villages are inscribed on the black board:
- v[illage]. Verbka, Pavlogradsk raion, Dnepropetrovsk obl[ast’].
- v. Gavrilovka, Mezhevsk raion, Dnepropetrovsk obi.
- v. Liuten’ki, Gadiachsk raion, Khar’kov obi.
- v. Kamennye Potoki, Kremenchug raion, Khar’kov obi.
- v. Sviatotroitskoe, Troitsk raion, Odessa obi.
- v. Peski, Bashtansk raion, Odessa obi.
In relation to these villages the following measures to be carried out …
Shapoval cannot be trusted
Snyder cites Yurii Shapoval’s work very frequently. Shapoval is a leading Ukrainian nationalist, and highly anticommunist, scholar. But Shapoval cannot be trusted to quote his sources accurately. Here is one example from the very beginning of the article, “Liigen und Schweigen,” that Snyder cites here: Felix Chuev wrote an account of this meeting in a little book, One Hundred Forty Talks with Viacheslav Molotov,“where we read the following: – Some writers have said to one another that the famine of 1933 was organized on purpose by Stalin and your whole leadership. – The enemies of communism say that. – But it appears that almost 12 million persons died because of the famine of 1933. – I consider that these facts are unproven, asserted Molotov. – Unproven? – No, not at all. During those years I travelled around to the grain collections. I never encountered such things. At that time I was in the Ukraine twice because of the grain collection, I was in Sichevo, in the Urals, in Siberia – and was there something I did not see? That is absurd. No, that is completely absurd. That is certainly absurd, because at the session of the CC of the VCP(b) on August 3, 1932 Molotov, and no one else, said: “We are really facing the specter of a famine, and particularly in the rich grain regions.” Here is what the text of this book, Molotov. Poluderzhavnyi Valstelin (Moscow, 1999), p. 453, actually says: Some writers have said to one another that the famine of 1933 was organized on purpose by Stalin and your whole leadership. – The enemies of communism say that. That’s the enemies of communism. Not completely conscious persons. Not completely conscious …No, here our hands, or muscles could not tremble, and beware those who…do tremble – beware! We’ll throw them out. And if you have everything-give up what you have prepared! You are like children. The vast majority of present-day communists came when everything had been prepared, and just make it so everything is good for us, that’s the main thing. But that is not the point. There are those who will be engaged in it. There are people. The fight against the bourgeois heritage must be ruthless. If you don’t improve life – that is not socialism, but even if the life of the people is improving from year to year for a specified period, but the foundations of socialism are not being strengthened, we will inevitably come to ruin. – But almost 12 million persons died of hunger in 1933 ….- I consider that these facts are unproven, asserted Molotov. – Unproven? – No, not at all. During those years I had to travel around to the grain collections. I could not have missed such things. Impossible. At that time I was in the Ukraine twice because of the grain collection, I was in Sichevo, in the Urals, in Siberia – and was there something I did not see? That is absurd. I did not go to the Volga. Perhaps it was worse there. Naturally, they sent me to places where it was possible to get grain. No, that is an exaggeration, but such things, of course, did exist in some places. It was a very difficult year. Note that: * Molotov does not deny that a famine existed. Rather, he denies that “12 million people died of hunger in 1933.” * Shapoval has omitted Molotov’s last two sentences: “No, this is an exaggeration, but such things did exist in some places. It was a very difficult year.” Shapoval quotes this passage to “prove” that Molotov was “telling lies and remaining silent” (“Lugen und Schweigen”) about the famine. In reality Molotov did know and did speak about it in 1932. In addition, Molotov did not remain silent about the famine. Shapoval simply omitted Molotov’s reference to it! *Molotov did not “lie.” What he said was correct: (a) the estimate of 12 million dead of starvation in 1933 was an exaggeration – in fact, a gross, “absurd” exaggeration; and (b) this story was indeed spread by “the enemies of communism” – specifically, the Ukrainian Nationalists who collaborated with the Nazis. They originated the false story about the “Holodomor” after the war.19 Shapoval’s statement should not be accepted as accurate any more than Snyder’s should. Every fact-claim has to be checked. In practice this ruins his usefulness as a historian – as it does Snyder’s.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pgs. 103-107
Defending Walter Duranty
Snyder claims that New York Time_s Mosco’; correspondent ~walter Duranty “did his best to undermine Jones s accurate reporting. Duranty, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1932, called Jones’s account of the famine a “big scare story.” Duranty’s claim that there was “no actual starvation” but only “widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition” echoed Soviet usages and pushed euphemism into mendacity …. Duranty knew that millions of people had starved to death. Yet he maintained in his journalism that the hunger served a higher purpose. Duranty thought that “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.” (56) Snyder’s evidence (n. 95 p. 468): “For Duranty, see New York Times, 31 March 1933.” Snyder is wrong about Duranty and Duranty’s article of March 31, 1933. Duranty did use the words “a big scare story” – but to refer to Jones’ “conclusion that the country was ‘on the verge of a terrific smash’.” Duranty said of Jones’ words to him, “nothing could shake his conviction of impending doom.” This is where Duranty said he disagreed with Jones. Of course it was not Jones but Duranty who was right – the USSR did not suffer “a terrific smash.” Then Duranty goes on to say that he agreed with Jones! He wrote: But to return to Mr Jones. He told me there was virtually no bread in the villages he had visited and that the adults were haggard, gaunt and discouraged, but that he had seen no dead or dying animals or human beings. I believed him because I knew it to be correct not only of some parts of the Ukraine but of sections of the North Caucasus and lower Volga regions and, for that matter, Kazakhstan, … (Emphasis added, GF) According to Duranty Jones himself had said he had seen “no actual starvation” – that is, “no dead or dying animals or human beings.” Snyder gives no evidence that “Duranty knew that millions of people had starved to death.” As for this claim of Snyder’s: Yet he maintained in his journalism that the hunger served a higher purpose. Duranty thought that “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.” Here is what Duranty actually wrote: But – to put it brutally – you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, and the Bolshevist leaders are just as indifferent to the casualties that may be involved in their drive toward socialization as any General during the World War who ordered a costly attack in order to show his superiors that he and his division possessed the proper soldierly spirit. In fact, the Bolsheviki are more indifferent because they are animated by fanatical conviction. Snyder is deliberately deceiving his readers. There is no hint here that Duranty “maintained … that the hunger served a higher purpose.” In reality Duranty explicitly stated that Bolshevik leaders were even more “indifferent to the casualties” than were commanders in WW1 who callously ordered attacks for purposes of career advancement only. Why does Snyder go out of his way to attack this article of Duranty’s when in it Duranty states plainly that he agrees with what Jones told him concerning what he, Jones, had observed; called the Bolsheviks “indifferent” to casualties; and termed them “fanatical,” therefore even “more indifferent to casualties”? The reason seems to lie in his sponsors, the Ukrainian nationalists. For some reason the Ukrainian Nationalists have tried time and again to have Duranty’s Pulitzer Prize posthumously revoked on the grounds that he did not report the famine. Their latest effort of about a decade ago was unsuccessful, in large part due to the fact that Duranty’s Pulitzer was for reporting done in 1931, before any famine existed, and therefore had nothing to do with anything he wrote (or did not write) about the famine later on. Evidently, therefore, Snyder’s misrepresentation of Duranty’s
March 31, 1933 article is simply a “tell,” a signal that he is taking
his cues from the Ukrainian nationalists. Duranty was one of the New York Times Russian correspondents whose reporting on the Russian Revolution and ensuing Civil War was so anti communist and biased that it completely distorted the truth, as determined in the famous study “A Test of the News” by Walter Lippmann and Charles Merz, published as a supplement to the August 4, 1920 edition of The New Republic. Lippmann went on to be advisor to presidents and Merz to being an editor of The New York Times. After this experience, it seems, Duranty determined to curb his anti communist bias and report only what he himself had witnessed, as reporters are trained to do in the US.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pgs. 111-113
How far this famine was “man-made” in the sense that Stalin and his government deliberately provoked it by wholesale collectivization is another story. Evidence gathered on the spot showed that the lack of efficiency of the peasants themselves was partly to blame, that in some regions crop prospects were bright enough before the harvest but that harvesting was shockingly mismanaged; vast quantities of grain were hidden or simply wasted, because collection and distribution of foodstuffs disintegrated in the prevailing chaos. On the other hand, it can fairly be argued that the authorities were responsible because they had not foreseen the muddle and mess and taken steps beforehand to correct it. The proof of this is that things took a marked turn for the better in the following year, when the Communist Party set its hand, almost literally, to the plow….Yet it is interesting to note that Stalin did directly and specifically assume responsibility for what had occurred. In a speech of January 11, 1933, to the Central Committee of the Communist Party, he said: “…. Why blame the peasants?… For we are at the helm; we are in command of the instruments of the state; it is our mission to lead the collective farms; and we must bear the whole of the responsibility for the work in the rural districts.”
Duranty, Walter. Stalin & Co. New York: W. Sloane Associates, 1949, p. 78-79
Women who lived alone were routinely raped at
night under the pretext of grain confiscations-and
their food was indeed taken from them after their
bodies had been violated. This was the triumph of
Stalin’s law and Stalin’s state.4B (39-40)
source: (n. 48 p. 465): ” … On the party activists’ abuses, see
Kusnierz, Ukraina, 144-145, 118-119; and Kuromiya, Freedom and
There were also examples of rapes of women.
Members of the Committee on grain collection in
Wesianyki village (koziatynski rayon) after alco-
holic libations in a peasant’s house in turn raped his
daughter, and later one of them for about half an
hour held the naked girl in the cold.
Kusnierz mentions this example at page 145. This was a crime, and Kusierz cites an archival document. It would be useful to know what kind of document this is. It might be a record of a Party report or even of a prosecution of the offender. Rape – which is undoubtedly among the most deplorable forms of victimization – occurs in a variety of settings and conditions and is not unique to those discussed in the present narrative. No doubt that the alleged intoxication of male authorities might exacerbate
these conditions as well. As such, the question of whether this crime was punished is an important one. Source criticism is a fundamental part of the historical method, but Kusnierz makes no attempt to describe, much less to analyze, this archival source. On page 117-118 (not 118-119) Kusnierz writes: During grain collection in 1932 in the village of Sursko- Mychajliwka, Dnepropetrovsk district, the Komsomol secretary Kotenko raped women and took part in the beating of peasants. Kazimierz’s source is an article in Ukrainian by V.I. Prilutskii, “Malad’ ususpil’no-politychnomu zhitti USRR (1928-1933 rr)” – “Youth’ in the socio-political life of the USSR (1928-1933) – in the “Ukrainian Historical Journal”…for 2002. The source cited by Prilutskii is a report by the Odessa district committee of the Komsomol to Andreev, head of the Ukrainian Komsomol. The citation is as follows: Thus, in the village of Surskaya-Mikhailovskoye, Solonyans’kyy raion, Dniproretrovsk oblast’, secretary of the Komsomol cell Kotenko participated in raping women, and beating peasants, for which he was sentenced to “up to” 3 years. The Odessa district party committee was reporting a crime committed by a Komsomol member for which the guilty man was tried, convicted, and sentenced to “up to” three years. Neither Ku5nierz nor Snyder mentions this fact. (It would be important to have the document from which Prilutskii is quoting, evidently a trial transcript or sentence, but he does not provide it.) Conclusion: There is no evidence that rape was “routine,” as Snyder claims. Moreover, neither of these examples – the only two examples given in the works he cites – concern “women living
alone,” the “pretext of grain confiscations,” or “food taken from them after” the rape, etc.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pgs. 142-144
Translated: The results of these mistakes can now be seen in the matter of sowing, especially in the Ukraine, in that several tens of thousands of Ukrainian collective farmers are still travelling all around the European part of the USSR and are degrading the collective farms for us by their complaints and whining. So Snyder is correct that Stalin accused the kolkhozniks of “whining.” But these peasants could not possibly have been starving, as Snyder claims, and he cites no evidence that they were. Train travel costs money, which starving people would spend on food, not travel. Likewise, moneyless starving people would not have the strength to travel “all over the European part of the USSR.” They would need food to have the energy to travel anywhere. If these farmers were not starving what were they doing? Most likely they were traveling to trade: either taking grain from the Ukraine to trade for other things – the harvest was bad in European Russia too – or taking money, or other goods, to trade for grain. In normal times this activity was not immoral or illegal. But during a famine the price of food increases greatly. The Soviet government’s efforts to distribute food according to need, rather than according to who had the money to buy it at inflated prices, stood in complete contradiction to permitting speculators to travel around buying and selling grain. A capitalist approach to the famine would mean that, as usual, the well-off would eat and the poor would starve. The Bolsheviks needed to stop any trade in grain because that would destroy all attempts to ration grain, reserving grain only for those who could pay for it with money or goods.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pgs. 140 & 141
[Snyder’s claim is] Stalin, a master of personal politics, presented the Ukrainian famine in personal terms. His first im-
pulse, and his lasting tendency, was to see the starvation of Ukrainian peasants as a betrayal by mem-
bers of the Ukrainian communist party. He could not allow the possibility that his own policy of collectivization was to blame; the problem must be in the implementation, in the local leaders, anywhere but in the concept itself. As he pushed forward with his transformation in the first half of 1932 … (35) Kulczycki, Holodomor, 180 – This is a phony citation. There is nothing on this page about any “predisposition to personal poli-
tics,” whatever that might mean, on Stalin’s part. Stalin is not even mentioned on this page, or on the pages before and after it, 179 or
- Incidentally, this is a Polish translation of a Ukrainian-language
book. What is the point of using it as a secondary source? It is very hard to find. Snyder cites Ukrainian-language works elsewhere, so why not here? Moreover, how could it contain any information about Stalin’s “predispositions” that isn’t available elsewhere? It is absurd to do what Snyder does – to write about Soviet history from Polish, Ukrainian, German, and English books and articles while failing to use Russian works. From this and other indications in Blood/ands it appears that Snyder can read Polish well enough. Perhaps he reads Ukrainian too. Perhaps Snyder cannot read Russian, at least not well – or why wouldn’t he use Russian primary and secondary sources for Soviet history, instead of Polish and even Ukrainian translations? Or perhaps Snyder has nationalist Polish and Ukrainian historians helping him, but not Russian scholars? Kusnierz, Ukraina, 152, is another phony citation. There is nothing about Stalin’s supposed “predisposition to personalized politics” here. In fact Stalin’s name does not occur on p. 152 of Kusnierz’s book. Stalin is briefly mentioned on page 148 (a report was sent to Stalin), and not again until page 17 4.
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pgs. 139 & 141
“2. We do not know the amount of grain which was held by grain-consuming organizations, notably the Red Army, but we suspect that these “consumers’ stocks” would not change the picture substantially.”
Davies, Wheatcroft, and Tauger, Found in [Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 48]
“[Stalin] had failed to reach the levels which he had been imperatively demanding since 1929.5”
Davies, Wheatcroft, and Tauger, Found in [Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 48 & 49]
“There were serious famines in 1920-1921, 1924, 1927, and 1928. The “Volga famine” of 1920-1921 is
well known, in part because of the Nansen relief commission which took many horrifying photographs of the suffering. There was another weather-induced famine in 1924.”
Grover Furr, Blood Lies (2014), pg. 54
This is not the whole story. Considerable efforts were made to supply grain to hungry children, irrespective of their parents’ roles in society. (See Davies, Years, 425) The Vinnitsa decision of April 29, insisting that most grain should be distributed to those who were active in agriculture, also allocated grain specifically to crèches and children’s institutions in the badly-hit districts. (TsDAGOU, 1/20/6275, 211.) On May 20, the USSR Politburo issued a grain loan to the Crimea specifically for children in need and aged invalids. (RGASPI, 17/162/14, 142.)
- Davies, Years, 221
Graziosi continues: In the following month, the decree led to the arrest of 220,000 people, predominantly hungry peasants in search of food; 190,000 of them were sent back to their villages to starve. (105) This conclusion and these figures, which Snyder simply repeats verbatim, are not supported by any primary sources Graziosi cites. Graziosi has no way of knowing how many of the persons stopped were “hungry peasants.” In reality, very few of them, if any, could have been. Starving people do not travel long distances by train to seek food – they do not have the energy for long trips, much of which would have to be on foot. Nor do starving people spend their money on train tickets. They would remain at home and use their money to buy food…[M]ost of these travelers would have been speculators trying to purchase grain and foodstuffs in areas not as hard-hit by the famine in order to return to famine areas to resell them at a high profit. This “market” process benefitted the well-to-do and guaranteed that only the poor would starve. In fact, poor peasants starved even when harvests were good, since speculators could drive up the price by buying it for resale elsewhere. Note too that the document in question [The order of January 22, 1933…to stop peasants…from moving to other areas] makes it clear that peasants were moving from the North Caucasus and Kuban into the Ukraine as well as the other way around. This is consistent with the movements of people buying and selling grain, but not of people who were starving.
Certainly there was famine in Ukraine. That is correct. But it is also true that there was famine in Kazakhstan and southern Russia. Although historical research (science) is taking the first steps, yes, leaving as evidence in the interpretation of propaganda “historiadores” teach worried about the wickedness of the socialist system while hiding the heroes of their collaboration with the Nazis, everything indicate that the causes of hunger, reiterates that not only in Ukraine, we must look for them, especially in a combination of: a terrible drought that lasted from 1930 to 1932,
Mark Tauger Sources
Tauger: “The Harvest of 1932 and the Famine of 1933,” Slavic Review, Vol. 50, No. I (1991) 70-89. (Tauger 1991)
“Grain Crisis or Famine? The Ukrainian State Commission for Aid to Crop Failure Victims and the Ukrainian Famine of 1928-1929” in Provincial Landscapes. Local Dimensions of Soviet Power, ed. by D.J. Raleigh (Pittsburgh, 2001), 146-170, 360-365. (Tauger 2001a)
Natural Disaster and Human Action in the Soviet Famine of 1931-1933, Carl Beck Papers No. 1506 (Pittsburgh, Penn., 2001). (Tauger 2001b)
“Soviet Peasants and Collectivization, 1930-1939. Resistance and Adaptation.” journal of Peasant Studies (4) 2004, 427-256. Reprinted in Rural Adaptation in Russia, ed. Stephen K. Wegren. London and New York: Routledge, 2005, 65-94. (Tauger 2004)
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B_1w5HB0F8oASm5nanZwNTdkWjA?usp=sharing – Holodomor PDF compilation